United Nations official did not carry USA gov't message to NK: State Department

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The United Nations has dispatched an envoy to North Korea for a rare visit aimed at defusing tensions over Pyongyang's intercontinental ballistic missile launch, as the USA and South Korea began joint military exercises condemned by North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un.

Jeffrey Feltman, the United Nations' Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, will be heading to North Korea on Tuesday.

US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley said last week that while Washington does not seek war with Pyongyang, "if war comes, make no mistake, the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed".

An official from the South Korean government welcomed the move, saying that the government hopes this opportunity leads North Korea to open dialogue with the worldwide community. -South Korea joint air force exercise involving hundreds of fighter jets and tens of thousands of troops. United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Monday that Feltman will discuss "issues of mutual interest and concern" with Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and Vice Minister Pak Myong Guk during his visit, which ends on Friday.

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Mr. Feltman's visit to North Korea has added significance because he is expected to travel to China as well as Japan, which covers the three most important countries in the region that play a crucial role in this geopolitical crisis.

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

US President Donald Trump has engaged in months of tit-for-tat rhetoric with Kim, pejoratively dubbing him "Little Rocket Man" and a "sick puppy".

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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