United Nations official did not carry USA gov't message to NK: State Department

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A top United Nations official will travel to North Korea this week for talks with officials there, a United Nations spokesman said Monday.

Feltman arrived in China as Beijing is one of the few transit points to North Korea in the world.

U.N. Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, center, poses with two unidentified accompanying colleagues upon arrival at the Pyongyang International Airport in Pyongyang, North Korea, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017.

Jeffrey Feltman, the U.N. under secretary-general for political affairs, will meet with North Korean officials, including North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, to discuss "issues of mutual interest and concern", according to the U.N. He will attempt to defuse growing tensions as North Korea pushes ahead with its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program.

An official of the USA state department said it was "aware" of the planned trip when asked if Washington backed the visit, reported Reuters.

The spokesman said that Feltman's trip was in response to an invitation extended by the North during the UN General Assembly in September, adding the visit was fixed late last week.

Analysts say it is unclear whether the missile survived re-entry into the earth's atmosphere or could successfully deliver a warhead to its target - key technological hurdles for Pyongyang.

But the basic strategy of President Donald Trump's administration on North Korea remains maximum pressure, mainly via economic sanctions.

The U.S. and South Korean militaries are holding a major air force exercise and just last week Pyongyang test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile that experts say could hit Washington.

Tokyo's parliament yesterday slammed the North's weapons programme as an "imminent threat".

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