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(2nd LD) Kim's possible Seoul visit not discussed at inter-Korean liaison officers' meeting

All News 16:53 December 07, 2018

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead; UPDATES with end of meeting in paras 2-6; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, Dec. 7 (Yonhap) -- The issue of a possible visit to Seoul by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was not discussed at a meeting between the chief liaison officers of South and North Korea on Friday, the unification ministry said.

South and North Korea held the meeting between Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung and Jon Chong-su, vice chairman of the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country, amid rampant speculation and rumors that Kim may soon visit Seoul.

Some media reports have even speculated that Kim plans to make a three-day visit next week, and South Korean officials are busy making secret preparations to welcome the North's leader, with the top focus on ensuring his safety and security.

During Friday's 80-minute meeting at the joint liaison office in the North's border town of Kaesong, the two sides reviewed the implementation of the agreements made between their leaders and discussed relevant issues in a comprehensive manner, the ministry said.

The two sides agreed to work together to smoothly carry out inter-Korean projects without setbacks through the rest of the year, it added.

But there were no discussions related to a possible inter-Korean summit month, it said.

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.

This file photo taken on Sept. 14, 2018, shows the facade of the four-story joint liaison office in the North Korean border town of Kaesong that the two Koreas opened the same day. The leaders of the two Koreas reached an agreement in their April summit to run such an office on hopes that the office will serve as a communication channel to help facilitate inter-Korean cooperation on various fronts. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)


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