United Nations official's visit to North Korea raises questions about sanctions

North Korean Central News Agency of the missile launch

The question is "how to convince North Korea that a deal won't be rejected in a year or two by a new American administration", Lavrov said on the sidelines of a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

North Korea is pursuing nuclear and missile weapons programs in defiance of United Nations sanctions and worldwide condemnation.

Japan is to acquire medium-range, air-launched cruise missiles, capable of striking North Korea, a controversial purchase of what will become the longest-range munitions of a country that has renounced the right to wage war. In their last test on November 29, North Korea test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that had a range of hitting anywhere in the United States.

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

The new sanctions, which will go into effect Monday, come as the worldwide community puts greater pressure on the reclusive regime that has threatened the world with weapons of mass destruction.

The measures are in addition to those imposed by the UN Security Council. During his visit to North Korea earlier this week, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman assured the country's leadership of the global community's commitment to peaceful solution of the North Korean issue, the UN Secretary General's office said on Saturday.

Feltman emphasised the need for the full implementation of UN Security Council resolutions and that the global community was committed to achieving a peaceful solution.

KCNA said North Korean officials and Feltman agreed that his visit helped deepen understanding and that they agreed to communicate regularly.

But in its reporting of Mr Feltman's trip, KCNA also said both sides agreed on "communication through visits at different level on a regular basis in the future". The senior United Nations official left Pyongyang on Saturday after four days of talks with the North Korean Foreign Ministry.

"But at the same time it can be seen that hopes for peace have yet to extinguished".

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