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(LEAD) Cheong Wa Dae denies report on Xi's possible visit to Seoul this month

All Headlines 19:34 June 06, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES with China's response in last 5 paras; CHANGES dateline)

SEOUL/ BEIJING, June 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae on Thursday denied a news report that Chinese President Xi Jinping has decided to visit Seoul before the Group of 20 summit slated to take place in Osaka, Japan, late this month.

"I understand that nothing has been decided as to whether President Xi will visit (Seoul) or not," a presidential official told Yonhap News Agency over the phone on condition of anonymity.

This image shows South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Yonhap)

JoongAng Ilbo, a South Korean newspaper, reported, citing a Beijing source, that China is preparing for Xi's trip to Seoul before the Osaka summit slated for June 28-29 based on the belief that he cannot further delay the visit to South Korea, crucial for Beijing's regional diplomacy.

A foreign ministry official in Seoul also denied the news report.

"There aren't such movements (related to Xi's possible trip to Seoul) at all," the official said on condition of anonymity.

China's foreign ministry said it has no related information.

"I have not heard any relevant news," its spokesman, Geng Shuang, said at a press briefing in Beijing. "What I can tell you here is that China and South Korea are close neighbors and trade partners. Currently, relations between the two nations are not bad."

China would like to deepen cooperation in various fields and solidify mutual trust, he added.

A source in Beijing said it's hard to have information on Xi's possible visit to South Korea before an official announcement, given the characteristics of China's system.

Xi last visited Seoul in July 2014.
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