The United Nations decided in late March to pull out of the Olympic torch run in North Korea, the UN children's agency said on Monday.
UNICEF, had been asked by the International Olympic Committee to provide runners for the torch relay in North Korea's capital, Pyongyang, and initially accepted, UNICEF spokesman Christopher de Bono said. But after discussions among all the UN agencies in Pyongyang, the UN decided to withdraw from the run, he said.
The United Nations and other international organisations operate under difficult conditions and severe restrictions in the reclusive, poverty-stricken communist nation.
"We originally accepted an invitation to participate in the Pyongyang leg of the run by the International Olympic movement after we were advised that the government of the DPRK could not identify a Korean to carry the torch for this leg," de Bono said, using the initials for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"There was some discussion among UN agencies with headquarters in Pyongyang and we decided not to go ahead with it because our participation and our partnership with the International Olympic Committee is to raise awareness of the situation of children, and we're not convinced that our participation would advance that aim," de Bono said.