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U.N. political chief meets North Korean vice foreign minister

SEOULl, South Korea, Dec. 6 (UPI) — The United Nations political chief met with North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Pak Myong Guk during a rare four-day trip to Pyongyang.

U.N. Undersecretary General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman arrived in the North Korean capital Tuesday, a week after Pyongyang conducted its new intercontinental ballistic missile test.

The North’s Korean Central News Agency said Wednesday the two officials had “exchanged views on areas of common interest regarding U.N. agencies in cooperating with North Korea.”

Before the meeting took place, the North Korean official expressed his hope that the discussion would be “full of sincerity,” Kyodo News reported.

During his stay, Feltman is also expected to meet Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho, who extended the invitation to Pyongyang for the purpose of a “policy dialogue” in September, a U.N. spokesman said Monday.

The spokesman said that the political chief would address “issues of mutual interest and concern” with North Korean officials, leading to anticipation that the visit could defuse geopolitical tensions.

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres had, on several occasions, expressed his willingness to broker talks between North Korea and the international community.

However, Feltman will not be delivering any kind of message from Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Tuesday.

Naeurt stressed that the U.N. chief is making the visit on the behalf of the U.N., not the U.S. government.

Feltman’s trip marks the first high-ranking visit to the North by a U.N. official since his predecessor Lynn Pascoe traveled there in February 2010 and former U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos visited in October 2011.

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