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UN envoy bound for North Korea as tensions soar

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Beijing: A senior United Nations envoy arrived at Beijing's airport today on his way to North Korea for a rare visit aimed at defusing soaring tensions over Pyongyang's intercontinental ballistic missile launch.

The unusual trip by Jeffrey Feltman, which runs to Friday, comes less than a week after North Korea said it test-fired a new ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States.

AFP journalists saw Feltman arrive in a UN-flagged car at the Chinese capital's international airport in the morning. North Korea's Air Koryo airline has a 0455 GMT flight to Pyongyang today.

His trip comes a day after the United States and South Korea launched their biggest-ever joint air exercise - manoeuvres slammed by Pyongyang as an "all-out provocation".

The five-day Vigilant Ace drill involves 230 aircraft, including F-22 Raptor stealth jet fighters, and tens of thousands of troops, Seoul's air force said. Feltman arrived in China yesterday as Beijing is one of the few transit points to North Korea in the world.

China is Pyongyang's sole major diplomatic and military ally, and its main trade partner.

Once in the North, Feltman will discuss "iss

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