United Nations official did not carry USA gov't message to NK: State Department

U.N. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman speaks during a news conference in Colombo   Thomson Reuters

U.N. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman speaks during a news conference in Colombo Thomson Reuters

It was not immediately clear what Jeffrey Feltman, the United Nations undersecretary-general for political affairs, discussed with Vice Minister Pak Myong Guk. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who succeeded Ban, extended his term until April 1, 2018.

Feltman, the highest-ranking American in the U.N. Secretariat, is the first person in that post to visit North Korea since February 2010.

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.

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This is the first visit for a United Nations under-secretary to the DPRK since 2011.

The spokesman noted that Guterres has repeatedly said "his good offices are always available if the parties want".

But the basic strategy of President Donald Trump's administration on North Korea remains maximum pressure, mainly via economic sanctions. 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.

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It may take a while to find out exactly what is being discussed during Jeffrey Feltman's visit this week.

North Korean officials rarely brief the media on the content of discussions with foreign dignitaries. But he said the invitation wasn't issued until November 30. Former humanitarian chief Valerie Amos also visited the country in October 2011, and the current head of the U.N. World Food Program, David Beasley, told The Associated Press last month that he plans to visit. The UN operates six agencies with 50 global staff in North Korea to provide food, agriculture and health aid to its malnourished population.

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