In North Korea, a Visit That Hasn't Happened in 6 Years

A top UN official hasn't been to the country since October 2011
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 5, 2017 7:21 AM CST
In North Korea, a Visit That Hasn't Happened in 6 Years
UN Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, center, walks upon arrival at the Pyongyang International Airport in Pyongyang, North Korea, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017.   (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)

The last time a senior UN official stepped foot in North Korea was in October 2011. That changed Tuesday, with United Nations undersecretary-general for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman's visit to the country. The BBC reports Pyongyang proffered the invitation in September but confirmation of the visit didn't come until last week. Feltman, who is not slated to meet with Kim Jong Un, will meet with foreign minister Ri Yong Ho (who infamously called President Trump a "barking dog") to discuss "issues of mutual interest and concern." That ostensibly includes North Korea's nuclear weapons program. The Wall Street Journal reports the UN Security Council has had no discussion regarding Feltman's visit, but the paper quotes a council diplomat as saying, "The trip is more of a way to try to do some help and to test the waters."

Feltman, the former US ambassador to Lebanon, per Quartz, and the highest ranking American in the UN, made a pit stop in Beijing along the way, "no doubt interested to hear what, if anything, came out of China's latest talks with the North Korean regime," per the BBC. The Guardian reports a UN rep added that Feltman will also "meet with the United Nations country team and members of the diplomatic corps, as well as visit UN project sites"—six agencies and 50 UN staffers are present in the country, where they provide food, agricultural, and health aid. His visit concludes Friday, and comes as the US and South Korea are in the midst of "Vigilant Ace." (More North Korea stories.)

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