North Korea says UN envoy expressed willingness to ease tensions

Kim Jong-Un
North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un [Photo Credit: Al Jazeera]

The UN political affairs chief expressed willingness to ease tension on the Korean peninsula during a visit to North Korea on Wednesday, state media said on Saturday, amid a rising war of words over the North’s missile and nuclear programmes.

North Korea also said in a statement carried by its official KCNA news agency that the UN envoy acknowledged the negative impact of sanctions on humanitarian aid to North Korea.

Jeffrey Feltman, the highest-level UN official to visit North Korea since 2012, did not speak to newsmen upon arriving back from Pyongyang at Beijing airport on Saturday.

“The UN expressed concerns over the heightened situation on the Korean peninsula.

“UN also expressed willingness to work on easing tensions on the Korean peninsula in accordance with the UN Charter which is based on international peace and security,” KCNA said.

Speaking at an academic forum, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the situation on the Korean peninsula had entered a vicious circle of shows of strength and confrontation.

China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the outlook was not optimistic.

“But at the same time it can be seen that hopes for peace have yet to extinguish.

“The prospects for negotiations still exist, and the option of resorting to force cannot be accepted,” Wang was quoted as saying.

North Korea is pursuing nuclear and missile weapons programs in defiance of UN sanctions and international condemnation.

On Nov. 29, it test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile which it said was its most advanced yet, capable of reaching the mainland U.S.

Meanwhile, the U.S. and South Korea have conducted large-scale military drills this week, which the North said have made the outbreak of war “an established fact”.

KCNA said North Korean officials and Feltman agreed that his visit helped deepen understanding and that they agreed to communicate regularly.

The November’s missile test prompted a U.S. warning that North Korea’s leadership would be “utterly destroyed” if war were to break out.

The Pentagon has mounted repeated shows of force after North Korean tests.

North Korea regularly threatens to destroy South Korea and the U.S. and says its weapons programmes are necessary to counter U.S. aggression. (Reuters/NAN)

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