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(LEAD) Koreas to hold chief liaison officers' meeting amid speculation over Kim's possible trip to Seoul

North Korea 11:10 December 07, 2018

(ATTN: ADDS updated info throughout)

SEOUL, Dec. 7 (Yonhap) -- South and North Korea will hold a meeting of their chief liaison officers on Friday, the unification ministry said, amid speculation that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un could visit Seoul before year's end.

Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung and his North Korean counterpart, Jon Jong-su, will meet at the joint liaison office in the North's border town of Kaesong from 11 a.m., according to the ministry.

Chun and Jon serve as co-heads of the office launched in September to secure a channel for round-the-clock communication.

"They will review the implementation of the agreements their leaders had agreed and discuss relevant issues in a comprehensive manner," Lee Eugene, a deputy ministry spokeswoman, told a regular press briefing.

"I have no information at hand for details on agenda items," she added in response to a question as to whether Kim's trip to Seoul could be discussed.

In a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in September, Kim promised to visit Seoul "at an early date" to reciprocate Moon's trip to Pyongyang. Moon said that it means he would travel to the South before the end of this year unless a major issue arises.

Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon told lawmakers that Seoul and Pyongyang have been in discussions to make Kim's Seoul trip possible within this year.

"Basically, the (North's) commitment to carrying out what was agreed is clear, but the North hasn't given a specific answer yet," the minister said, adding that Kim's trip will serve as an "important opportunity" in the North's denuclearization as well as the U.S.-North Korea relations and inter-Korean ties.

Moon and Kim have met three times this year, including summits in April and May, in which they agreed to expand cross-border exchanges and work toward "complete" denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The two Koreas opened the liaison office with a promise to hold a weekly meeting of the co-chiefs. But that meeting has not been held as promised on a weekly basis. The last time Chun and Jon met was Nov. 9.


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