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North Korea says UN envoy willing to ease Korean Peninsula tensions

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This picture taken on December 6, 2017 and released on December 7 by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows talks between UN Undersecretary-General Jeffrey Feltman (3rd L) and North Korean Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Pak Myong-guk (3rd R) in Pyongyang. (Via AFP)

North Korea says the UN envoy who recently visited Pyongyang has expressed willingness to ease tensions in the Korean Peninsula as a fresh war of words has escalated markedly after the North's latest missile and nuclear tests.

“The United Nations expressed concerns over the heightened situation on the Korean Peninsula and expressed willingness to work on easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula in accordance with the UN Charter which is based on international peace and security,” the official North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) quoted an unnamed spokesman for the North’s Foreign Ministry as making the comments on Saturday.

The statement came on the same day as Jeffrey Feltman, the UN undersecretary-general for political affairs, left the country after four days of talks with the Foreign Ministry. Feltman, who was the highest-level UN official to visit North Korea since 2012, met with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho on Thursday.

The statement also said Feltman had acknowledged negative impacts of the UN-imposed sanctions on humanitarian aid and that he said he was committed to help facilitate humanitarian assistance.

When asked for details on his rare trip, Feltman said he had “to brief UN Secretary General” Antonio Guterres “first”.

The developments came after the US and South Korea concluded a five-day joint military drill in the region on Friday. The large-scale war games infuriated Pyongyang, which lambasted them as the “confrontational warmongering” by US officials.   

During the past recent months, tensions on the Korean Peninsula have escalated markedly after Pyongyang’s latest missile and nuclear tests, conducted despite growing international pressure.

Two days before the commencement of the joint drills, the North warned US President Donald Trump that his country was “staging an extremely dangerous nuclear gamble on the Korean Peninsula.”

Pyongyang says it will not give up on its nuclear deterrence until the US stops its hostile policy toward the country.

Washington has thousands of troops in the region, including in South Korea and Japan, and routinely threatens the North with military action to stop its weapons programs.

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