In a rare show of mutual consent, the United Nations and North Korea have both agreed that the current security situation in the Korean Peninsula is “the most tense and dangerous” in the world today.
UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman wrapped up his four-day trip to North Korea, where he held a series of meetings with Pyongyang’s officials, including Foreign Minister Ri Yong-Ho, on Friday.
The high-profile visit came amid increasing tensions in the region after North Korea conducted its latest ballistic missile test at the end of last month.
“They exchanged views on the Korean Peninsula and agreed that the current situation was the most tense and dangerous peace and security issue in the world today,” UN Secretary-General spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement on Saturday.
The UN diplomat Feltman noted that there is a need to “prevent miscalculations and open channels to reduce the risks of conflict”.
North Korea said its latest test launch, condemned by China and the US, was the “most powerful ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missile]”.
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. An emergency meeting by the UN Security Council was held in response to the latest test in November, with US President Donald Trump vowing more sanctions against North Korea.
Calling for the full implementation of all relevant Security Council resolutions, Feltman urged “a diplomatic solution to the situation, achieved through a process of sincere dialogue”.
“Time is of the essence,” he added.
Escalating nuclear tensions in the region have also cast a shadow over the upcoming Winter Olympics in South Korea’s PyeongChang.
US presence in the Games is also in doubt, with the country’s ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, calling the team’s participation an “open question”.
No official decision has been made yet, but the White House said that security concerns will be taken into consideration.
On September 3, North Korea conducted its most powerful nuclear test ever, detonating a hydrogen bomb northeast of Pyongyang, the capital.
That test, weeks before the United Nations General Assembly, angered global leaders.
The UN Security Council implemented new economic sanctions on North Korea as a result of that nuclear test. —Al Jazeera