United Nations envoy meets North Korean foreign minister

A tracked missile transporter. Wikimedia  Stefan Krasowski

Feltman arrived in Pyongyang Tuesday and met with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho and other senior officials.

Feltman's visit came at a time of high tension between North Korea, South Korea, Japan and the United States, sparked by North Korea's frequent missile launches.

North Korea regularly threatens to destroy South Korea and the United States and says its weapons programs are necessary to counter USA aggression.

Feltman, the highest-ranking American in the U.N. Secretariat, is the first person in that post to visit North Korea since February 2010. It also said Feltman acknowledged that worldwide sanctions are having a negative impact on humanitarian aid to North Korea.

The UN continues to operate in North Korea, with programmes providing food, agricultural and health aid but the last visit by a senior official was back in 2011.

KCNA said Pyongyang considers the joint drills part of a USA "scheme to make a surprisingly preemptive nuclear strike" on North Korea.




Feltman was expected to leave Pyongyang on a North Korean Air Koryo passenger jet to land in Beijing on Saturday.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump, meanwhile, have traded insults and engaged in escalating rhetoric in recent months.

Six U.N. agencies, with about 50 global staff, are represented in the North.

Trump announced on November 20 that the United States was returning North Korea to the list of state sponsors of terrorism and promised to intensify a campaign of "maximum pressure" and sanctions as part of a rolling effort to compel Kim's government to negotiate over its nuclear program. The North recently launched its most advanced missile to date and the USA and South Korea are now holding joint exercises with some of the world's most powerful fighter aircraft.

But in its reporting of Mr Feltman's trip, KCNA also said both sides agreed on "communication through visits at different level on a regular basis in the future".

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