Published: Mon, December 11, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

United Nations official's visit to North Korea raises questions about sanctions

United Nations official's visit to North Korea raises questions about sanctions

His trip - the first by a United Nations diplomat of his rank since 2010 - saw him meet Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho and Vice Foreign Minister Pak Myong-kuk, and visit medical facilities supported by the United Nations, the North's state news agency KCNA said.

North Korea regularly threatens to destroy South Korea and the United States and says its weapons programmes are necessary to counter U.S. aggression.

North Korea's increasingly powerful missile and nuclear tests this year have rattled Washington and its regional allies South Korea and Japan, and prompted the United Nations Security Council to pass two sets of sanctions blocking about 90 per cent of that nation's reported exports, including coal and seafood, as well as imports of some oil products.

"Time is of the essence" to find a diplomatic solution to rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the UN's political chief told North Korea's foreign minister during a visit to Pyongyang this week, a spokesman said Saturday.

The UN Security Council implemented new economic sanctions on North Korea as a result of that nuclear test.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are the world's most unsafe security issue, and must be resolved fast and diplomatically to avoid war, a top United Nations envoy said after a rare visit to North Korea.

Kim Hyun-uk of the Korea National Diplomatic Academy said the dialogue will not make a significantly positive impact on the peninsula, given North Korea's standing position on nuclear weapons.

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"The United Nations expressed concerns over the heightened situation on the Korean peninsula and expressed willingness to work on easing tensions on the Korean peninsula in accordance with the UN Charter which is based on global peace and security", KCNA said.

Feltman's visit follows last month's launch by North Korea of a ballistic missile that Pyongyang said could reach the entire United States mainland. The United States stations 28,500 troops in the South, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.

Mr. Feltman, the UN's under-secretary-general for political affairs, visited the country just after the United States and South Korea launched their biggest-ever joint air exercise.

"Now I hope we will be able to open the dialogue on the nuclear problem in the Korean peninsula".

Six UN agencies are represented in North Korea, staffed by a team of about 50 people from across the globe, the UN said in a statement.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Saturday published a speech from four days ago by Foreign Minister Wang Yi in which he warned that the Korean Peninsula "remains deeply entrenched in a vicious cycle of demonstrations of strength and confrontation".

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