UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon will visit Pyongyang this week for a possible meeting with leader Kim Jong-un, a South Korean news report has said.
The possible trip comes six months after Pyongyang cancelled an invitation at the last minute for Ban to visit a factory park in the North Korean city of Kaesong. Ban has said North Korea gave no reason for the cancellation. He had not planned to visit Pyongyang at that time.
Yonhap news agency cited an unidentified source in the UN when it reported on Sunday about Ban’s Pyongyang trip. It gave no details on the purpose of the trip or the day it would take place.
The U.N. spokesman said that he has “no further comment at this time” on Ban’s possible visit to North Korea.
“The Secretary-General has always said that he is ready to play any role in order to help enhance dialogue, stability and peace on the Korean Peninsula,” the spokesman said in a statement.
“As for any future plans by the Secretary-General to travel to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, we have no further comment at this time,” he said, referring to the full name of North Korea.
If the trip does take place, Mr. Ki-moon would be the first UN chief to visit North Korea since Boutros Boutros-Ghali in 1993.
Yonhap, quoting another unidentified UN source, said Ban was expected to meet Kim because it was unlikely for the secretary general to visit a UN member state without meeting the country’s leader.
That source was quoted as saying Ban’s trip could serve as a breakthrough in the standoff over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and strained ties between the two Koreas. Ban was South Korea’s foreign minister before taking up the top UN job.
Ban, who is South Korean, had said before his cancelled trip that he hoped his visit would help improve ties between the two nations.
The Korean nations remain in a technical state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War concluded with an armistice.