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(LEAD) Xi to skip S. Korea around G-20 summit in Osaka

All News 16:51 June 07, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES lead paras with gov't official's comments; CHANGES headline)
By Lee Chi-dong

SEOUL, June 7 (Yonhap) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping won't visit South Korea on the occasion of the upcoming G-20 summit in Japan, a government official here said Friday.

"President Xi is not coming to South Korea" just before or after his trip to Osaka for the June 28-29 G-20 session, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The confirmation came amid multiple news reports here that Xi is expected to travel to South Korea on his way to Osaka or after travelling there.

A Cheong Wa Dae official indicated that President Moon Jae-in instead has a plan to sit down with Xi on the sidelines of the G-20.

There will be various summit-level meetings involving Moon in Osaka, he said.

The presidential office earlier told reporters that "(the two sides) are closely communicating" in connection with the possible summit.

No decision, however, has been made yet on the "timing, venue and formality" of a possible meeting between Moon and Xi, he added.

A final decision is expected to be made after Moon's eight-day tour of Finland, Norway and Sweden from Sunday, according to the official.

A major daily, the JoongAng Ilbo, reported that working-level officials of South Korea and China have already begun preparations for Xi's trip here.

An official at the Chinese Embassy in Seoul rebutted the report, saying the embassy is not making any earnest preparations.

"We have not received any relevant direction (from Beijing)," the official told Yonhap News Agency, requesting anonymity.

The G-20 is about three weeks away, which is a short time to prepare an agenda and logistical details associated with a trip by Xi to South Korea, the official said.

"It's physically difficult to make preparations," he said. "Of course, (we) have to do so even in a few days if it's a special situation. But I don't think now is such a special situation."

He left the possibility open for a Xi-Moon meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 forum.


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