UN political chief stresses urgency of reducing tensions on Korean Peninsula

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UNITED NATIONS, (Xinhua) — The UN’s political chief on Saturday stressed the urgency of reducing tensions on the Korean Peninsula after finishing his four-day visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

“There can only be a diplomatic solution to the situation, achieved through a process of sincere dialogue,” UN Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman said in a press release, adding that “Time is of the essence.”

Feltman arrived in the DPRK on Tuesday to begin a rare four-day visit at the invitation of Pyongyang, for a “wide-ranging” discussion on policy issues “of mutual interest and concern.”

The highest-level UN official to visit the DPRK in more than six years, Feltman had a series of meetings with Ri Yong-ho, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Pak Myong-guk, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, of the DPRK, according to the press release.

“They exchanged views on the Korean Peninsula and agreed that the current situation was the most tense and dangerous peace and security issue in the world today,” it said, adding “Mr. Feltman emphasized the need for the full implementation of all relevant Security Council resolutions.”

Noting the urgent need to prevent miscalculations and open channels to reduce the risks of conflict, Feltman underlined that the international community, alarmed by escalating tensions, is committed to the achievement of a peaceful solution to the situation on the Korean Peninsula, the press release said.

During his visit, Feltman also met with the United Nations Country Team and members of the diplomatic corps, and visited UN project sites, including a children’s foodstuff factory, TB prevention institute, breast tumor institute, and paediatric hospital. During the site visits he learned about the UN’s life-saving work on the ground as well as the challenges in procurement and funding gaps.

Feltman’s visit came at a time of heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula, sparked by the DPRK’s frequent missile launches and recent nuclear test, and particularly by its latest long-range ballistic missile launch.

Feltman served for nearly 30 years in the U.S. Foreign Service, where his last post was as assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, before being tapped in 2012 by former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to be political chief. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who succeeded Ban, extended Feltman’s term until April 1, 2018.

The United Nations announced Monday a visit by Guterres to Japan on Dec. 13-14, which will be the UN chief’s first trip to the country since taking office in January.

As planned, Guterres will meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and is expected to discuss issues including the DPRK’s nuclear development.

Editor: Jiaxin