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(LEAD) N. Korea calls off U.N. chief's visit to Kaesong complex

All Headlines 10:05 May 20, 2015

(ATTN: UPDATES with Ban's remarks)

SEOUL, May 20 (Yonhap) -- U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday that North Korea has called off his planned visit to the inter-Korean industrial complex in its border city of Kaesong.

Ban was scheduled to visit Kaesong on Thursday to meet with South Korean businesses and North Korean workers inside the factory park.

"Early this morning, North Korea suddenly informed us through a diplomatic channel that they are calling off the North Korean authorities' permission for my visit to the Kaesong Industrial Complex," Ban said during a speech at the Seoul Digital Forum. "There was no explanation at all for the reason for the sudden cancellation. Such a decision by Pyongyang is very regrettable."

Ban, who announced his planned visit during the World Education Forum on Tuesday, would have been the first U.N. chief to visit the complex since its launch in 2004.

He would also have been the first U.N. chief to visit North Korea in more than 20 years.

In announcing the visit Tuesday, Ban said he hoped to help promote reconciliation between the two Koreas.

"As U.N. secretary-general, I will not spare any effort to urge North Korea to cooperate with the international community for the Korean Peninsula and for peace and stability," he said.


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