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12:47, 26 April 2018 Thursday
Update: 14:41, 05 December 2017 Tuesday

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UN envoy heads to North Korea as nuclear tensions soar
UN envoy heads to North Korea as nuclear tensions soar

Jeffrey Feltman's visit -- the first by a UN diplomat of his rank since 2010 -- comes less than a week after North Korea said it test-fired a new ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States.

World Bulletin / News Desk

A senior United Nations official travelled to North Korea on Tuesday for a rare visit aimed at defusing soaring tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme.

Feltman arrived in a UN-flagged car at Beijing's international airport in the morning before North Korea's Air Koryo flight took off for Pyongyang in the early afternoon.

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.

Feltman, the UN's under secretary general for political affairs, arrived in China on Monday as Beijing is one of the few transit points to North Korea in the world. 

He met with a Chinese vice foreign minister while in Beijing.

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.

Once in the North, Feltman will discuss "issues of mutual interest and concern" with officials, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said, adding he was unable to say whether Feltman will meet with the reclusive state's leader Kim Jong-Un.



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