U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is to send a special envoy to North Korea next week, his office said Sunday, amid international efforts to bring Pyongyang back into disarmament talks on its nuclear weapons programme.

U.N. political chief B. Lynn Pascoe will visit North Korea from Februrary 9-12 as Mr. Ban’s special envoy to discuss “all issues of mutual interest and concern in a comprehensive manner,” Mr. Ban’s office said in a statement.

The statement didn’t elaborate on specific topics of discussion. But South Korea’s Yonhap news agency cited an unidentified U.N. official as saying Sunday that Mr. Pascoe plans to discuss with senior North Korean officials the resumption of six-party nuclear talks and international humanitarian aid to the country.

Yonhap said Mr. Ban’s deputy chief of staff, Kim Won-soo, is to travel with Mr. Pascoe.

Last year, North Korea quit the six-party talks - held with China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States - in anger over international condemnation of a prohibited long-range rocket launch. The country later conducted its second nuclear test, test-launched a series of ballistic missiles and restarted its plutonium-producing facility, inviting widespread condemnation and tighter U.N. sanctions.

North Korea has said its return to the six-party talks hinges on lifting of international sanctions against it and building better relations with the U.S.

Mr. Pascoe is to visit China, Japan and South Korea before travelling to North Korea.

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