Published: Thu, December 07, 2017
Global | By Shelia Dennis

North Korea | Senior UN official in Pyongyang to meet top leaders

North Korea | Senior UN official in Pyongyang to meet top leaders

Jeffrey Feltman, the U.N.'s undersecretary general for political affairs, arrived in Pyongyang earlier in the day on a four-day visit that includes talks with Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho.

He is now said to be in Beijing ahead of his departure to the North.

But Dujarric would not say if Feltman would meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during his trip. He was tapped by former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to be the United Nations political chief in 2012 after serving for almost 30 years in the U.S. Foreign Service, where his last post was as assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs.

The spokesman noted that Guterres has repeatedly said "his good offices are always available if the parties want".

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The most senior American to visit North Korea in an official capacity recently was James R. Clapper, who as director of national intelligence traveled to Pyongyang in late 2014 to secure the release of two American citizens. An official from the South Korean government welcomed the move, saying that the government hopes this opportunity leads North Korea to open dialogue with the worldwide community.

Feltman's visit comes amid high tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

China, which is Pyongyang's sole major diplomatic and military ally, has called on the United States to freeze military drills and North Korea to halt weapons tests to calm tensions.

The last United Nations undersecretary-general for political affairs to visit North Korea was B. Lynn Pascoe in February 2010.

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U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has, on various occasions, voiced his interest in serving as a mediator to resolve the North's nuclear issue.

North Korea invited Feltman for a "policy dialogue" when Ri was in NY in September for the U.N. General Assembly, according to a U.N. spokesman.

Feltman will also meet with the heads of various U.N. humanitarian programs operating in North Korea, including UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and the U.N. Population Fund.

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