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A high-ranking United Nations official is on his way to North Korea to help lower tensions over the secretive regime's nuclear and ballistic missile testing programs.

Feltman, a former American diplomat who spent more than three decades at the U.S. Department of State, is the first senior United Nations official to visit the secretive North Korean state since former Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos did so in 2011, CNN reported.

Feltman is now in Beijing reinforcing contacts with Chinese authorities.

AFP journalists saw Feltman arrive in a UN-flagged auto at the Chinese capital's worldwide airport in the morning.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".

On Monday, he met Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Li Baodong, and from Beijing he will go directly to the North Korean capital.

Feltman, the highest-ranking American in the U.N. Secretariat, is the first person in that post to visit North Korea since February 2010. -South Korea joint air force exercise involving hundreds of fighter jets and tens of thousands of troops.

The spokesman said that Feltman's trip was in response to an invitation extended by the North during the UN General Assembly in September, adding the visit was fixed late last week.

The UN envoy is also planning to see foreign diplomats and UN workers in the North on humanitarian missions, Dujarric said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump, meanwhile, have traded insults and engaged in escalating rhetoric in recent months.

On Monday, the US and South Korea launched their biggest-ever joint air exercise - maneuvers slammed by Pyongyang as an "all-out provocation".


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