Senior UN official in North Korea to meet top leaders

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Senior UN official in North Korea to meet top leaders

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Monday that UN Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman will travel to Pyongyang Tuesday to discuss "issues of mutual interest and concern" with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho and others.

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.

US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley said last week that while Washington does not seek war with Pyongyang, "if war comes, make no mistake, the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed".

The visit came as tensions further escalate on the Korean Peninsula following the latest ballistic missile launch by DPRK and an on-going U.S. Feltman's predecessor, Lynn Pascoe, visited the North in 2010.

Pyongyang sent tensions soaring 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 U.S. within range.

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.

From Dec. 5 to 8, Feltman, a former U.S. State Department official, will meet a number of officials including Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho, United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters.

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. Countries including the U.S., Japan and South Korea are watching to see what the North will ask of the U.N.as a mediator to gauge how well the sanctions are working. But Dujarric would not say if Feltman would meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during his trip.

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