SEOUL, Dec. 5 (Yonhap) — North Korea is expected to decide if its leader Kim Jong-un will visit Seoul in tandem with progress of its denuclearization talks with the United States, South Korea’s spy agency was quoted as saying Wednesday.
South Korea hopes that Kim will make his first trip to Seoul by the end of this year, saying that the visit will help accelerate Pyongyang’s denuclearization. But prospects for his trip are uncertain amid North Korea’s stalled talks with the U.S.
In the Pyongyang summit agreement in September, Kim agreed to visit Seoul “at an early date,” which President Moon Jae-in says means within this year.
The National Intelligence Service (NIS) told lawmakers that nothing has yet been decided over his trip.
“As Kim’s trip is linked to U.S.-North Korea talks, it will be decided in line with progress (over Pyongyang’s dialogue with Washington),” the NIS was quoted as saying by Rep. Lee Hag-jae, the chief of the parliamentary intelligence committee.
The NIS said that if a second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and the North’s leader had taken place in October or November, the South would have sought an inter-Korean summit in Seoul later this year.
“But we cannot keep up with this schedule,” it added.
The agency also rejected media speculation that Kim may visit Seoul from Dec. 18-20, saying that Dec. 17 is the anniversary to mark the death of Kim’s father, Kim Jong-il.
The agency also said that Andrew Kim, head of the CIA’s Korea Mission Center, did not meet with Kim Yong-chol, a ranking North Korean official, Monday at the border truce village of Panmunjom.
A South Korean newspaper reported that the North asked for a secret contact with the U.S. at the border village. But Kim did not show up and instead, Kim Song-hye, an official in charge of the North’s inter-Korean affairs, held talks with the U.S. side.
“It is true that they did not meet. From the beginning, there was no plan for them to have a meeting,” the NIS said.
Trump earlier raised the possibility of a second summit with Kim in January or February, but Washington and Pyongyang have yet to agree on the schedule for high-level talks to arrange the summit.
Source: Yonhap News Agency