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(LEAD) No signs of progress on N.K. leader's possible Seoul visit: Cheong Wa Dae

Politics 13:44 December 09, 2018

(ATTN: ADDS more remarks from Cheong Wa Dae official in paras 5-9)

SEOUL, Dec. 9 (Yonhap) -- There appear to be no signs of progress in regard to a possible visit by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to Seoul following the Moon Jae-in government's official invitation, the presidential office said Sunday.

"No headway has been made so far, and there is nothing to announce," Yoon Young-chan, Cheong Wa Dae's top press secretary said in a message to reporters.

Speculation is rising in South Korea amid a slew of media reports claiming that Kim could be planning to make a three-day visit to Seoul this week and that South Korean officials are busy making secret preparations.

Cheong Wa Dae has officially denied the reports while making it clear it leaves all doors open for Kim to come before the year's end or early next year.

A Cheong Wa Dae official also reaffirmed it has yet to receive an answer from Pyongyang.

"We have delivered our message to Pyongyang clearly enough and are waiting calmly for their response, without fretting," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official stressed that Cheong Wa Dae has not proposed any specific date to the North for Kim's visit and denied speculation by some local media that the date has already been set in stone and Cheong Wa Dae's denial is part of a ploy to keep the plans under wraps for security and other reasons.

"We're doing what we can in terms of preparations, but we can't do anything concrete since none of us can predict what's to come," the official said.

"And we are not cut off from communicating with Pyongyang (over the matter)."

Yoon said that there have been "no other meaningful signs" and played down the possibility of a North Korean delegation visiting the South prior to Kim's visit.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in invited Kim to pay a return visit to Seoul during their September summit in Pyongyang, the third meeting of the two leaders this year. Kim was open to the invitation.

For Cheong Wa Dae to make the event happen before the end of this month, it would have to receive a reply from Pyongyang by this weekend, according to Cheong Wa Dae officials, given the time needed for organizing what would be the first visit ever by a North Korean leader to the South.

(LEAD) No signs of progress on N.K. leader's possible Seoul visit: Cheong Wa Dae - 1


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