United Nations political affairs chief visit to NK sparks hope of mediation role

Vastavam web: United Nations political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman arrived in North Korea on Tuesday for a rare visit that some analysts and diplomats hope could spark a U.N.-led effort to defuse rising tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.The former senior U.S. State Department official is the highest-level U.N. official to visit North Korea since 2012. During a four-day visit he is due to meet Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho to discuss “issues of mutual interest and concern.”
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told Russia, Japan, the United States, China and North and South Korea in August he was available to help broker talks. So-called six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program stalled in 2008.“We need to find a way to scale back tensions,” the official said. “I don’t think we will have a major breakthrough being announced at the end of this trip. But the visit could serve as a step to build a framework for engagement.”
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Feltman was not travelling on behalf of the U.S. government.“And he’s not travelling – I want to make this clear – with any kind of message from the U.S. government He’s going on behalf of the U.N., not the U.S. government,” she told a regular news briefing.North Korea has been working to develop nuclear-tipped missiles capable of reaching the United States in defiance of U.N. sanctions. It conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test in September and last week tested a missile capable of reaching anywhere in America.
Feltman told the 15-member Security Council last week that its unity “creates an opportunity for sustained diplomatic engagement – an opportunity that must be seized in these dangerous times to seek off-ramps and work to create conditions for negotiations.”