U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will travel to Pyongyang, North Korea, later this week for a possible meeting with leader Kim Jong-un, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.
Ban had been scheduled to visit Kaesong, the inter-Korean factory park in North Korea, six months ago, but that trip had been canceled. No reason was given for the cancellation at the time.
Yonhap news agency cited on Sunday a high-level source at the United Nations when it reported Ban’s trip to Pyongyang.
Ban is expected to meet with Kim because it's unlikely for the secretary general to visit a U.N. member state without meeting the country's leader, according to the U.N. source.
The U.N. spokesman's office in New York and Seoul’s Unification Ministry declined to comment on the possible trip, which would be Ban’s first visit to the closed country in his capacity as U.N. chief.
Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s trip in 1993 was the last visit by a U.N. chief to North Korea.
Kim, who took over leadership of the country in 2011, has yet to receive a single head of state, and has not traveled outside the country.
The U.N. source said Ban's trip could serve as a breakthrough in the standoff over North Korea's nuclear weapons program and strained ties between the two Koreas.
International nuclear disarmament talks with North Korea have been stalled since early 2009. North Korea faces a number of U.N. sanctions imposed after its three nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013.
Some material for this report came from AP and AFP.