Dec. 5 (UPI) — South Korea has officially denied any discussions with the North regarding a date for an inter-Korea summit in Seoul, but sources in government say the North has provided specific days when Kim Jong Un could travel to the South, according to a local press report.
South Korean television network JTBC reported Wednesday working-level negotiators between North and South have exchanged views, and the North has said Kim could visit after Dec. 17, between Dec. 18 and 20.
Dec. 17 is the death anniversary of Kim’s father Kim Jong Il, and it is unclear whether the symbolic date would play a role in defining a potential summit — the elder Kim never visited the South.
An official at Seoul’s presidential Blue House who spoke to JTBC on the condition of anonymity said the South needs an answer by the weekend in order to make plans for a summit, if it is to happen before the end of the year.
At a meeting on inter-Korea cooperation, Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon told South Korean lawmakers there have been “no specific discussions” with the North on a summit date, refuting reports the two sides have been in discussion.
But Cho also said “all possibilities are open,” local news service Newsis reported Wednesday.
As some South Korean civic groups have begun to prepare to “welcome” Kim Jong Un to Seoul, high-profile defector Thae Yong-ho is weighing in on the summit, Yonhap reported Wednesday.
RELATED U.S., North Korean officials meet to discuss second summit
Thae, who has been receiving death threats for his column on North Korea, said the summit is a chance for Kim to see for himself South Korea’s liberal democracy.
“It must be an opportunity for learning,” Thae said.
Thae also said if the summit is to be a success the South Koreans should stay away from denuclearization, according to the report.