North Korea says visiting United Nations official expressed willingness to ease tensions

"They. agreed that the current situation was the most tense and risky peace and security issue in the world today".

Jeffrey Feltman, the highest-level United Nations official to visit North Korea since 2012, did not speak to reporters upon arriving back from Pyongyang at Beijing airport this morning.

"They exchanged views on the Korean Peninsula and agreed that the current situation was the most tense and unsafe peace and security issue in the world today", UN Secretary-General spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement on Saturday.

Tensions have reached alarming levels on the Korean peninsula after several missile launches by North Korea, including last week's test-firing of a new ballistic missile which Pyongyang said was capable of reaching the United States.

However, Feltman did manage to hold talks with the North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho during the trip, the first by a top United Nations official in almost six years.

Feltman "emphasised the need for the full implementation of all relevant Security Council resolutions" and reiterated that "there can only be a diplomatic solution to the situation, achieved through a process of honest dialogue".

Pyongyang reiterated its view that these manoeuvres were a provocation on Saturday, accusing the drills of "revealing its intention to mount a surprise nuclear pre-emptive strike against the DPRK", using the acronym for the country's official name.

The launch was the first since September 15, when North Korea fired a ballistic missile over the Japanese island Hokkaido, eventually crashing into the Pacific Ocean.

"We have channels, through which we are conducting a dialogue, and we are ready to deploy them, we are ready to exert our influence on North Korea", Morgulov was quoted as saying at a conference in Berlin.

North Korean state media earlier said current tensions were "entirely ascribable to the USA hostile policy".

North Korea is also concerned about the effects global sanctions have had on the delivery of humanitarian aid.

A suspension of nuclear and missile tests would be a "good first step", says Joseph YunJoseph Yun, the senior USA representative for North Korea Policy, said a "60-day plan" for dialogue with Pyongyang is still valid.

"(Wang) noted that the situation on the Korean Peninsula is still deep in a vicious circle of demonstrating strength and confrontation, and the outlook is not optimistic", Xinhua said.

The measures are in addition to those imposed by the UN Security Council.

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.

  • Rogelio Becker