Published: Wed, December 06, 2017
Medical | By Garry George

United Nations envoy not carrying USA government message on North Korea visit

United Nations envoy not carrying USA government message on North Korea visit

The visit has drawn attention amid escalating tensions over North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs, especially after its latest long-range missile launch last week.

Jeffrey Feltman, the world body's undersecretary-general for political affairs, left for Pyongyang Tuesday after a stopover in Beijing the day before.

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

AFP journalists saw Feltman arrive in a UN-flagged vehicle at the Chinese capital's global airport in the morning.His trip comes a day after the United States and South Korea launched their biggest-ever joint air exercise -manoeuvres slammed by Pyongyang as an "all-out provocation".

The five-day Vigilant Ace drill involves 230 aircraft, including F-22 Raptor stealth jet fighters, and tens of thousands of troops, Seoul's air force said.

The responding to a "long-standing invitation" from Pyongyang, but the visit comes at a time of great tension on the Korean Peninsula.

Once in the North, Feltman will discuss "issues of mutual interest and concern" with officials, United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said, adding he was unable to say whether Feltman will meet with the reclusive state's leader Kim Jong-Un. The visit was first said to have been discussed on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September, but not confirmed until recently.

During his four-day trip, Feltman will reportedly meet United Nations staff and foreign diplomats in the North and visit the sites of United Nations programs.

The U.S. apparently signaled approval of Feltman's trip and presumably is keeping an eye out for the North's response. Countries including the U.S., Japan and South Korea are watching to see what the North will ask of the a mediator to gauge how well the sanctions are working.

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