Seoul says it’s unlikely Kim will visit South before 2019

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L) and South Korean president Moon Jae-in (R) talking as they visit at the Samjiyon guesthouse in North Korea, Sep. 20, 2018. EPA-EFE FILE/PYONGYANG PRESS CORPS / POOL EDITORIAL USE ONLY

SEOUL.– The South Korean government on Wednesday said it would be difficult for the North Korean leader to visit Seoul before the end of the year.

The statement dispelled speculation about a possible last-minute trip by Kim Jong-un.

«We judge that it would be difficult for Chairman Kim to visit Seoul this year,» a spokesman for the presidential office told the Yonhap news agency.

«We are open to the possibility (of his visit) early next year as well, but we don’t know what will happen,» the spokesman added.

The second half of December is a busy period for the regime since the 17th is the anniversary of the death of Kim’s father, former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, and it also spends the month reviewing its yearly accomplishments and preparing for Kim’s New Year’s speech.

In September, South Korean President Moon Jae-in invited Kim to visit Seoul before the end of the year.

However, the lack of progress in the dialog between Pyongyang and Washington seems to have prevented the holding of a new inter-Korean summit in Seoul, which would be the fourth since April.

If the trip does take place, Kim would also be the first leader from the North to set foot in the South.

United States President Donald Trump has confirmed his intention to hold a second summit with Kim in «January or February.”

However, the bottleneck in denuclearization talks caused by the lack of a roadmap in the agreement that the two leaders signed in Singapore in June, is lengthening the process to set this second date.

The US is calling on North Korea to take real steps towards denuclearization, while the regime is calling for a peace treaty to be signed first to guarantee its survival.

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