Jeffrey Feltman, the UN under-secretary-general for political affairs, who visited North Korea last week – the first visit by a top UN official in six years, said tension is mounting and must resolved diplomatically to avoid war.
During his visit, he met with Ri Yong Ho, the North Korean minister for foreign affairs.
As reported by CNN, their meeting came at a particularly tense time – a week after North Korea tested an advance long-range missile and South Korea conducted military drills with its ally, the United States.
According to a UN statement, Ri and Feltman “agreed that the current situation was the most tense and dangerous peace and security issue in the world today”. Feltman stressed the need for relevant Security Council resolutions to be implemented, saying a diplomatic solution could be achieved through sincere dialogue.
In a statement to journalists, he said there’s an “urgent need to prevent miscalculations and open channels to reduce the risks of conflict”. He also stressed that the international community is alarmed by escalating tensions, and is committed to a peaceful resolution.
“Time is of the essence,” he said.
According to CNN, Feltman’s trip coincided with the annual Vigilante 18 military drill held by the US and South Korea, which the US Air Force says is designed to boost the “combat effectiveness” of the alliance.
North Korea’s state media described the drills as “joint air war exercises targeting the DPRK”, a reference to North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The drills came after Pyongyang test-fired a Hwasong-15 missile November 29. This was North Korea’s first ballistic missile test since September and is believed to be its most dangerous and technologically advanced long-range ballistic missile.
According to CNN, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi said on December 9 there was still hope for peace on the Korean Peninsula.
China has repeatedly called for a de-escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, including a freeze in the North Korean nuclear program in exchange for the halt of United States and South Korean military drills.