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N. Korea Ends Speculation Over UN Chief Invite to Pyongyang

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Sept. 25, 2014.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Sept. 25, 2014.

North Korea’s Mission to the United Nations says leader Kim Jong Un’s letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was just a formal thank-you letter.

In an email to the VOA Korean service Sunday, the North Korean delegation explained Kim’s recent note was simply a reply to a letter Ban recently sent on the occasion of North Korea's national anniversary day.

The South Korean media had been speculating whether or not Kim’s letter contained an invitation to visit the North.

The North’s mission also dispelled some media reports that this is the first time the Supreme Leader of the DPRK has sent to a letter to the U.N. chief. According to the mission’s email, the North Korean leadership has sent reply letters to U.N. secretary-generals in the past - but never a personal letter.

On the same day, a spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general, Stephane Dujarric, sent a note to reporters denying an invitation had been received.

“I would like to clarify that the letter received was only a formal thank-you letter,” Dujarric wrote. “There has been some speculation that the letter contains substantive issues including an invitation to the secretary-general to visit the DPRK. Such speculation is totally groundless.”

The U.N. announced Saturday that Ban met with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong and received a letter from the North’s leader Kim Jong Un.

The U.N. chief has repeatedly expressed his intention to visit North Korea if invited.

Jee Abbey Lee contributed to this report, which was produced in collaboration with the VOA Korean service.