United Nations faces uphill course to broker North Korea talks

Dec 06, 2017, 00:43
United Nations faces uphill course to broker North Korea talks

It'll be the first time a senior United Nations official has visited the reclusive state since the former United Nations aid chief, Valerie Amos, visited in October 2011 and it comes as tensions have been renewed after Pyongyang test fired its latest, most powerful ballistic missile yet last week.

The visit by Feltman follows the dispatch last month by China of its highest-level envoy to North Korea in two years.

Jeffrey Feltman, undersecretary-general for political affairs, traveled to Pyongyang in response to an invitation by the North for a policy dialogue with the U.N. He is expected to meet with officials including Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho.

An official of the U.S. state department said it was "aware" of the planned trip when asked if Washington backed the visit, reported Reuters.

Analysts say it is unclear whether the missile survived re-entry into the earth's atmosphere or could successfully deliver a warhead to its target - key technological hurdles for Pyongyang.

South Korea's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that it hopes the United Nations chief will "convey the resolve and commitment of the global community's in stopping the North's threats and provocations".

In recent years, Pyongyang has accelerated its drive to bring together nuclear and missile technology capable of threatening the U.S., which it accuses of hostility.

The U.S. and South Korean militaries are holding a major air force exercise and just last week Pyongyang test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile that experts say could hit Washington.

Some Trump advisers say United States 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.

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