The prospects of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un visiting Seoul in the last few days left in this year are bleak, the Yonhap news agency reported Wednesday, citing South Korea’s presidential office.
“We judge that it would be difficult for Chairman Kim to visit Seoul this year,” a presidential official reportedly revealed.
“We are open to the possibility [of his visit] early next year as well, but we don’t know what will happen,” Seoul’s presidential official added. “For now, [what we can say is that] it would be difficult for Kim to make a trip to Seoul this year.”
“There was speculation that the North’s leader might make his first trip to Seoul before the end of this year, with [South Korea’s presidential office] saying that it plans to prepare for a potential visit, though nothing has been decided,” Yonhap noted.
Kim reportedly agreed to visit Seoul as part of the Pyongyang inter-Korean summit agreement in September.
“Experts have said that Kim’s visit would be decided in tandem with progress of the denuclearization talks,” Yonhap reported.
U.S. President Donald Trump has said he expects to participate in a second denuclearization summit with the North Korea dictator earlier next year.
Trump held an unprecedented meeting with Kim in June.
In early October, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to North Korea to meet with Kim in preparation for the second denuclearization summit between Trump and the Asian country’s dictator. So far, the denuclearization negotiations have made minimal progress.
The Trump administration is working to convince Kim to take credible steps towards the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for relief from international sanctions.
Heather Nauert, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of State (DOS), said in October that Pompeo remains “hopeful” that the Trump administration’s denuclearization goal might be achieved by January 2021.
DOS has stressed that the easing of sanctions remains contingent upon the verification of credible steps towards the peninsula’s complete denuclearization.
In November, Yonhap reported that North Korea has failed to dismantle its key missile site further since August.
A month earlier, the Heritage Foundation’s 2019 Index of U.S. Military Strength determined that North Korea has actually intensified its nuclear activities following the Trump-Kim summit in June.