NEW YORK, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- The United Nations denied reports that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to visit North Korea after China's Xinhua news agency had reported the visit was confirmed for next week.
The Chinese news agency had stated North Korean sources had substantiated claims of Ban's visit to Pyongyang. South Korea press, quoting an unnamed U.N. official, had reported Ban was to visit after North Korea rescinded an earlier invitation in May.
But on Tuesday a U.N. spokesman said Ban had no plans to go to North Korea, although the secretary-general has "repeatedly said that he is willing to play any constructive role...in an effort to work for peace, stability and dialogue on the Korean peninsula," the BBC reported.
So far, there has been no official announcement of the Ban visit from either North or South Korea, but South Korean television network JTBC reported analysts have said the plans could still be a work in progress. The U.N. did not immediately repudiate reports of Ban's visit on Monday, and finally denied the claims only after Xinhua issued a report on Tuesday. The U.N. said Ban would be in New York the week of Nov. 23.
A Ban visit could be a coup for the North Korean regime, and any visit from the secretary-general could be used to bolster the legitimacy of Kim Jong Un's leadership.
Speculation over Ban's North Korea agenda comes at a time when the U.N. General Assembly is expected to vote on a North Korea human rights resolution.
Ri Hung Sik, North Korea's ambassador-at-large, said in New York on Tuesday the resolution was malicious slander and that he had requested the authors, the European Union and Japan, to abandon the motion.