North Korea | Senior UN official in Pyongyang to meet top leaders

UN envoy bound for NKorea as tensions soar

Feltman's visit comes after the outrage sparked by the Kim Jong-Un regime over its latest ballistic missile trial on November 28.

His trip comes a day after the United States and South Korea launched their biggest-ever joint air exercise - manoeuvres slammed by Pyongyang as an "all-out provocation".

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

The UN confirmed that he will be staying for four days, and will meet with several senior North Korean officials, including foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho, and vice-minister Pak Myong Guk.

This is the first time that a high-ranking UN politico will travel to North Korea since former Under Secretary-General Lynn Pascoe's visit in February 2010 and that of UN Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos in 2011.

The last United Nations undersecretary-general for political affairs to visit North Korea was B. Lynn Pascoe in February 2010.

A Cathay Pacific crew flying from San Francisco to Hong Kong said they spotted what they believed was the missile, with one airline official saying the crew described seeing it "blow up and fall apart".

Dujarric said Pyongyang issued an invitation for Feltman to visit back in September, during the annual gathering of world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly.

It is an extremely rare move by the United Nations because it has been seven long years since a top diplomat from the global organization has visited North Korea.

Japan's U.N. Ambassador Koro Bessho said the meeting will focus on finding peaceful ways to pressure North Korea to halt its nuclear and ballistic missile tests and denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

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