A top official of the United Nations told North Korea this week that there was an “urgent need to prevent miscalculations and open channels” to avoid war. He said there could “only be a diplomatic solution” to the situation in the Korean peninsula, through “sincere dialogue”.

During the highest-level visit by a UN official to North Korea in six years, Jeffrey Feltman, the political affairs under-secretary general, met Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and his deputy Pak Myong Guk. They agreed that the Korean peninsula faces “the most tense and dangerous” peace and security situation in the world, the UN said.

Feltman visited the country between Tuesday and Friday.

He said that the international community was “committed” to finding a “peaceful solution” to the situation, and urged the need for the full implementation of all relevant Security Council resolutions.

Tensions between the North Korean regime, led by Kim Jong-un, and the United States have escalated this year, as Pyongyang has stepped up its nuclear efforts. US President Donald Trump has warned North Korea a number of times against boosting its nuclear weapons programme. The two leaders frequently trade ridicule, insults and threats at each other.

In July, Pyongyang twice launched a long-range missile that could potentially reach the US mainland. In September, it conducted its sixth and most powerful atomic explosion yet. On November 28, North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile, possibly the country’s longest-range test yet.