United Nations official to arrive in N.Korea for talks

Jeffrey Feltman speaks during a news conference in Colombo Sri Lanka

The United Nations has dispatched an envoy to North Korea for a rare visit aimed at defusing tensions over Pyongyang's intercontinental ballistic missile launch, as the US and South Korea began joint military exercises condemned by North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un.

Jeffrey Feltman, the U.N.'s undersecretary general for political affairs, arrived in Pyongyang earlier in the day on a four-day visit that includes talks with Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho.

Invited by North Korea to spend three days in Pyongyang, Feltman will engage in "policy dialogue" on a wide range of topics with senior DPRK officials.

Feltman is now in Beijing reinforcing contacts with Chinese authorities.

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.

Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman is scheduled to meet Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, Vice Minister Pak Myong Guk, diplomats and United Nations staff during his stay.

The spokesman said that Feltman's trip was in response to an invitation extended by the North during the UN General Assembly in September, adding the visit was fixed late last week.

The UN Security Council has hit the isolated and impoverished North with a package of sanctions over its increasingly powerful missile and nuclear tests, which have rattled Washington and its regional allies South Korea and Japan. The launch heightened tensions between the North and the United States, highlighted by months of insults between the regime and President Donald Trump.

He will also meet with the United Nations Country Team and members of the diplomatic corps, and visit UN project sites in DPRK, according to UN officials.

On Monday, the US and South Korea launched their biggest-ever joint air exercise - maneuvers slammed by Pyongyang as an "all-out provocation".

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