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(LEAD) Xi may visit N. Korea in April: S. Korea ruling party chief

All News 16:32 January 11, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS more info in last 3 paras)

SEOUL, Jan. 11 (Yonhap) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping may visit North Korea in April in what could be his first trip to the neighboring country, South Korea's ruling party chief said Friday.

Lee Hae-chan, chairman of the Democratic Party (DP), made the remark during his meeting with Noh Young-min, President Moon Jae-in's new chief of staff, at the National Assembly.

Noh visited there for the first time for a meeting with party chiefs since he took the post three days ago.

"Xi's visit to North Korea seems to be scheduled for April, and in May, there appears to be a high possibility of his trip to South Korea," Lee said, without revealing the source of his information.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited China earlier this week and held a summit with Xi ahead of a second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.

North Korea's state media said that Xi accepted Kim's invitation to visit North Korea "at a convenient date."

"On top of the North-China summit, if a second summit between the United States and North Korea and an inter-Korean summit are held, the peace mood in Northeast Asia will be established considerably," Lee said.

Noh, a former South Korean ambassador to China, told reporters that nothing has been decided over Xi's trip, though Seoul and Beijing are consulting on it.

"There will be a high possibility," Noh said, when asked by reporters about whether Xi could visit the North and the South in the first half of the year.

Rep. Hong Ik-pyo, spokesman of the DP, sought to damp down any controversy over Lee's remarks, expressing hope that the party chief's comments could be interpreted in a context where the relevant countries are expected to engage in vigorous diplomatic activity in the first half of the year.

Lee Hae-chan (C), the ruling Democratic Party's chairman, meets with Noh Young-min (R), President Moon Jae-in's new chief of staff, and Kang Gi-jung, the new top presidential secretary for political affairs, at the National Assembly on Jan. 11, 2019. (Yonhap)


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