Published: Wed, December 06, 2017
World Media | By June Phelps

Seoul expresses high hopes for United Nations official's Pyongyang trip

Seoul expresses high hopes for United Nations official's Pyongyang trip

An official from the South Korean government welcomed the move, saying that the government hopes this opportunity leads North Korea to open dialogue with the global community.

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

Jeffrey Feltman, the U.N. under secretary-general for political affairs, will meet with North Korean officials, including North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, to discuss "issues of mutual interest and concern", according to the U.N. He will attempt to defuse growing tensions as North Korea pushes ahead with its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program.

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Seoul has expressed high hopes for a senior United Nations official's rare visit to Pyongyang on Tuesday, amid rising tensions following North Korea's ICBM test launch last week. Feltman's predecessor, Lynn Pascoe, visited the North in 2010.

It will be Feltman's first visit to North Korea since he took office five years ago, and the first by a United Nations under-secretary-general in more than seven years.

Pyongyang ramped up already high tensions on the Korean Peninsula five days ago when it announced it had successfully test-fired a new ICBM, which it says brings the whole of the continental United States within range.

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A Cathay Pacific crew spotted what was "suspected to be the re-entry" of the missile as they flew from San Francisco to Hong Kong, the airline said.

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.

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.

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