Seoul approves visit by seven N. Korean officials this week

SEOUL, Nov. 12 (Yonhap) — The South Korean government has approved a visit by seven North Korean officials to the South later this week to attend an international peace forum, the Ministry of Unification said Monday.

Ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun said his ministry has given the green light to the South Korea visits by Ri Jong-hyok, vice chairman of the Korean Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, Kim Song-hye, director of the United Front Department’s tactical office, and five other North Korean officials from Nov. 14-17.

The seven North Korean officials, led by Ri, will arrive at Incheon International Airport on Wednesday afternoon to attend an international forum on Asia-Pacific peace and prosperity to be co-hosted by the Gyeonggi provincial government and the Asia-Pacific Exchange Association in Goyang, north of Seoul, Baik said.

“As the forum will be organized by a local government and a private organization, there’s no plan for any government-level meeting (with the North Koreans). The government will only extend support to ensure the forum proceeds smoothly,” the spokesman said.

Baik, however, didn’t rule out the possibility of the North Korean officials having contacts with their South Korean counterparts, saying it is not appropriate to predict the future schedules of the North Korean visitors.

The North Korean officials submitted their applications for a trip to the South to the ministry on Nov. 6. Besides Ri and Kim, the five others are working-level officials, the ministry added.

Ri, who has long handled inter-Korean affairs, met with South Korean Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang in Switzerland last month on the sidelines of an international conference.

Kim has long been involved in inter-Korean and North Korea-U.S. negotiations. She had accompanied Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, on her South Korean trip in February this year. She also traveled to the U.S. in May with Kim Yong-chol, vice chairman of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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