North Korea crisis: A political chief in rare visit to Pyongyang


 UN under secretary general for political affairs Jeffrey Feltman, attends a press conference in Bogota on 15 November 2017 Image copyright
AFP / Getty Images

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Mr Feltman is not expected to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un

The United Nations political affairs chief arrives in Pyongyang on Tuesday for a rare visit.

The trip by Jeffrey Feltman is the first by a senior UN official in six years.

North Korea had extended an invitation to the UN in September to visit for a "policy dialogue"

It comes after last week's launching of what North Korea called its "most powerful" intercontinental ballistic missile, claiming it could hit the US

Mr Feltman , a former US diplomat and the highest ranking American in the UN, will be in Pyongyang until Friday. His visit comes as South Korea and the US conduct his largest ever round of aerial drills.

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Media caption North Korea says the last one is capable of reaching Washington DC

] A spokesman told reporters that Mr Feltman will be meeting senior officials including foreign minister Ri Yong-ho. He is not scheduled to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The invitation, first informally issued in September, was confirmed on 30 November – the day after North Korea launched its most recent missile.

The BBC's Paul Adams in Seoul says in the absence of any other meaningful diplomatic channels, the UN clearly believes it's important to pursue whatever opportunities exist for dialogue.

The last visit by a senior An official was when Valerie Amos, then the UN's aid chief, traveled there in October 2011. Mr Feltman's predecessor Lynn Pascoe also visited in 2010

The trip by Mr Feltman comes during a period of high tensions following North Korea's test launch of a missile which drew another round of international condemnation.

The US ambbadador to the UN Nikki Haley had said last week that if war broke out, the North Korean regime would be "utterly destroyed"

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Getty Images

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The US has deployed F-22 fighter jets to take part in drills with South Korea


On Monday South Korea and the US began a five-day air combat exercise, their largest ever involving more than 200 airplanes and thousands of troops.

North Korea, which routinely condemns such drills, called "provocation" ".

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