UN envoy warns North Korea ‘miscalculation’ could trigger conflict

Feltman insists ‘there can only be a diplomatic solution to the situation, achieved through a process of sincere dialogue’


United Nations: A senior United Nations envoy warned on Saturday there was a grave risk of a miscalculation that could trigger conflict with North Korea as he urged Pyongyang to keep channels open after a rare visit to the reclusive state.

Jeffrey Feltman’s four-day trip to the North — the first by such a high-ranking UN diplomat since 2010 — kicked off less than a week after North Korea said it test-fired a new ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States.

The United Nations said Feltman met North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong-Ho and Vice Foreign Minister Pak Myong-Kuk and they “agreed that the current situation was the most tense and dangerous peace and security issue in the world today”.

The statement added: “Noting the urgent need to prevent miscalculations and open channels to reduce the risks of conflict, Mr 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.”

Feltman, the UN’s under secretary general for political affairs, added “there can only be a diplomatic solution to the situation, achieved through a process of sincere dialogue”.

“Time is of the essence.”

Earlier, North Korea’s state news agency KCNA said “the US policy of hostility toward the DPRK [North Korea] and its nuclear blackmail are to blame for the current tense situation on the Korean peninsula”.

But it added the North had agreed with the UN “to regularise communications through visits at various levels”.

The KCNA report did not mention any meetings with leader Kim Jong-Un, who has ramped up his impoverished nation’s missile and nuclear programme in recent years in order to achieve Pyongyang’s stated goal of developing a warhead capable of hitting the US mainland.

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