A senior United Nations official arrived in North Korea Tuesday for a rare four-day visit, the first in many years.
Jeffrey Feltman, the U.N. under secretary-general for political affairs, will meet with North Korean officials, including North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, to discuss “issues of mutual interest and concern,” according to the U.N. He will attempt to defuse growing tensions as North Korea pushes ahead with its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program.
Feltman, a former American diplomat who spent more than three decades at the U.S. Department of State, is the first senior U.N. official to visit the secretive North Korean state since former Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos did so in 2011, CNN reported. The last person holding Feltman’s position to travel to Pyongyang was B. Lynn Pascoe in 2010, the U.N. introduced.
The U.N. is responding to a “long-standing invitation” from Pyongyang, but the visit comes at a time of great tension on the Korean Peninsula.
North Korea conducted its third intercontinental ballistic missile test last Tuesday, demonstrating a theoretical ability to strike targets across all of the continental U.S. In response, the South carried out precision strike missile drills involving all three main branches of the South Korean military.
The U.S. and South Korea started joint military drills Monday. Twelve thousand service members and 230 aircraft, including stealth fighters and bombers, are participating in the drills, during which allied air assets will conduct simulated strikes on hundreds of mock North Korean targets, such as nuclear and missile sites, as well as mobile missiles.
North Korea is extremely angry about the ongoing exercises. “Owing to the US imperialist warmongers’ extremely reckless war hysteria, a grave situation is prevailing in the Korean peninsula that a nuclear war may break out any moment,” the state-run Korea Central News Agency reported.
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