The U.N. political affairs chief on Wednesday held talks with North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Pak Myong Guk, amid high tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs.

At the outset of their meeting in Pyongyang, Pak said he "sincerely" wants to hold discussions with U.N. Undersecretary General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, who arrived in North Korea on Tuesday for a five-day visit.

Feltman is the most senior U.N. official to have visited North Korea in more than six years. His trip comes about a week after North Korea test-fired a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile that it says is capable of hitting the entire United States.

Attention is focusing on whether his visit through Saturday will pave the way for the United Nations to act as a mediator in defusing the tense situation between North Korea and the United States.

During his stay in the North Korean capital, Feltman, a former senior official of the U.S. State Department, is scheduled to also meet with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho.

North Korea invited Feltman for a "policy dialogue" when Ri was in New York in September for the U.N. General Assembly, according to a U.N. spokesman.