UN Political Chief to Visit N. Korea

UN envoy arrives in North Korea as nuclear tensions soar

UN envoy arrives in North Korea as nuclear tensions soar

Hopes of China making a difference by wielding its considerable economic influence over its neighbor dimmed after a special envoy sent by President Xi Jinping in November failed to secure a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The UN's political chief will visit North Korea this week for talks with officials, amid heightened tensions over the North's latest ballistic missile test. 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. A delegation headed by State Department Special Representative Joseph Yun flew to Pyongyang to oversee the release of American college student Otto Warmbier in June this year.

North Korea nearly never discloses the details of its discussions with foreign delegations, and the United Nations says it doesn't plan to brief the media until after Feltman, its undersecretary-general for political affairs, completes his four-day visit.

Dujarric said Feltman was informally invited to visit North Korea during the annual gathering of world leaders at the General Assembly in September, presumably by foreign minister Ri who attended the session.

Feltman's predecessor, Lynn Pascoe, visited the North in 2010.

A Cathay Pacific crew flying from San Francisco to Hong Kong said they spotted what they believed was the missile, with one airline official saying the crew described seeing it "blow up and fall apart".

It is an extremely rare move by the United Nations because it has been seven long years since a top diplomat from the global organization has visited North Korea.

But some Trump advisers say U.S. military options are limited when Pyongyang could launch an artillery barrage on the South Korean capital - only around 50 kilometres from the heavily-fortified border and home to 10 million people.

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.

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