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U.N.'s Ban Ki-moon negotiating with North Korea on future visit

Ban’s announcement comes at a time when North Korea is taking steps toward reform.

By Elizabeth Shim
U.N.'s Ban Ki-moon negotiating with North Korea on future visit
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said negotiations with North Korean officials are ongoing and that he hoped an agreement could be reached soon for a future North Korea visit. Photo by David Silpa/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- The United Nations Secretary General said negotiations with North Korean officials are ongoing and that he hoped an agreement could be reached soon for a future North Korea visit.

Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday that North Korea has not returned an answer, but that he sincerely hoped a mutually convenient date would be reached as soon as possible, Yonhap reported.

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In November the U.N. denied reports that Ban was expected to visit North Korea, and North Korea rescinded an earlier invitation in May.

Ri Hung Sik, Ambassador at-large of the North Korean Foreign Ministry, said he did not know anything about Ban's plans, but added that a visit to a U.N. member country by the U.N. Secretary General is the "most natural and everyday of things." Ri also said if Ban visits North Korea it would help improve inter-Korean relations as well as Pyongyang's relations with the U.N.

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Ban's announcement comes at a time when North Korea is taking steps toward reform.

Kim Jong Un had called for the 7th Congress of the Workers' Party of Korea, scheduled to convene in May 2016, possibly to focus on landmark decisions on economic policy.

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But on Thursday the Asahi Shimbun reported the meeting was postponed to October 2016, because the process of reissuing Workers' Party certificates had not yet begun.

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A source told the Asahi mass mobilization movements in preparation for the Congress has yet to take place – a preliminary step toward the reissue of certificates.

North Korea's state-controlled newspaper Rodong Sinmun had reported on Wednesday Kim Jong Un had said the 7th Congress was to be held on Oct. 10 during his visit to a catfish farm, signaling a postponement.

Kim was heralded as the revered leader of North Korea on Thursday, ahead of an annual observance of father Kim Jong Il's death on Dec. 17, 2011, Yonhap reported.

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