Senior UN official assures Pyongyang of commitment to peaceful solution

North Korea: US military drills likely aimed at provoking the North, Russian minister says

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.

North Korean state media said Saturday that UN Undersecretary General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, who was in the North this week, also expressed a willingness to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula.

According to KCNA, North Korea noted in the meetings with the United Nations diplomat that the "present tense situation" on the Korean peninsula "is entirely ascribable to the US hostile policy and nuclear threat and blackmail".

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After a series of rare meetings with a senior official of the United Nations, North Korea said on Saturday through the state media that it blamed American "nuclear blackmail" for soaring tensions over is weapons program.

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It also said Feltman acknowledged that worldwide sanctions are having a negative impact on humanitarian aid to North Korea.

Feltman did not speak to reporters upon arriving back from Pyongyang at Beijing airport on Saturday morning after spending four days in North Korea. DPRK is the abbreviation for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

There is also a possibility North Korea invited Feltman to request an easing of sanctions, following statements from a North Korean delegation to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, or UNIDO, on November 28, condemning the embargoes.

South Korea and the U.S. have meanwhile been carrying out large-scale military drills in a show of force.

"(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.

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"I have to brief the secretary general first", was all he said.

"But today the UN Security Council has a meeting on the subject".

Six U.N. agencies, with approximately 50 global staff, are represented in North Korea.

Separately in Japan, police in Hokkaido, the northernmost of country's main islands, said they had arrested three of the crew members of a North Korean fishing boat on suspicion of plundering a remote fishing hut.

The Immigration Bureau has taken custody of six other members while one has been hospitalised after complaining of ill health.

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Total damage is estimated at US$70,500, according to the fishery cooperative in Matsumae which owns the hut.

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