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Ban Ki-moon not visiting North Korea: UN

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UN chief Ban Ki-moon has no plans to visit North Korea in the coming days, the United Nations said today, dispelling reports that he would meet with the nation’s diplomatically reclusive leader Kim Jong-Un.

Ban “will be in New York most of next week and then travel to Malta,” the UN said in a statement.

“The Secretary-General will not be traveling to the DPRK next week,” the United Nations said, using another name for North Korea.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported Monday that Ban would visit Pyongyang in his official capacity later this week, though no precise dates were given.

China’s official Xinhua news agency said that the North’s KCNA news agency had told it Ban would visit from Monday.

Xinhua later reported the UN statement, saying it came “in response to a report from the Korean Central News Agency stating that the secretary-general would be visiting the DPRK next week”.

The trip would have made Ban the first UN secretary general to set foot in the North for more than 20 years and the first international leader to meet Kim since he formally assumed power nearly four years ago.

Ban had been scheduled to visit North Korea in May this year, when Pyongyang invited him to tour the joint North-South Kaesong Industrial Zone, which lies just over the inter-Korean border.

But Pyongyang withdrew the invitation at the last minute after Ban criticized a recent North Korean missile test.

“The secretary-general has repeatedly said that he is willing to play any constructive role, including traveling to the DPRK, in an effort to work for peace, stability and dialogue on the Korean Peninsula,” the statement said.

Since taking over the leadership following the death of his father Kim Jong-Il in 2011, Kim has yet to receive a single head of state, and is thought not to have traveled outside the country.

After visiting Malta, Ban heads to Paris to attend the international climate summit aimed at curtailing global warming.