United Nations (United States) (AFP) - A top UN official will travel to North Korea this week for talks with officials there, a UN spokesman said Monday, amid heightened tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
The unusual visit by Jeffrey Feltman, which begins Tuesday and runs to Friday, comes less than a week after North Korea test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile believed capable of reaching the United States.
On Monday, the United States and South Korea launched their biggest ever joint air exercise amid warnings by US officials of a growing risk of war in the Korean peninsula.
Feltman, who is the UN under-secretary-general for political affairs, will discuss "issues of mutual interest and concern" with North Korean officials, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
The spokesman was unable to say whether Feltman will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
The UN official will also visit China during his trip to the region, Dujarric said.
He said Feltman's trip was in response to an invitation extended by the North Koreans during the UN General Assembly in September.
Asked whether Feltman would be preparing for a follow-on visit to Pyongyang by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Dujarric would only say that Guterres has always been ready to undertake a "good offices" mission if necessary.