SEOUL – North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may be invited to a special South Korea-Association of Southeast Asian Nations leaders’ summit set to take place in Busan in November, Yonhap news agency reported on Monday.
The summit is scheduled to take place during Nov. 25-26 in the South Korean port city to commemorate 30 years of Seoul’s ties with the 10 ASEAN member countries.
“The country (South Korea) will begin consultations with ASEAN countries based on such proposal, and depending on the outcome of their consultations, the country may invite Chairman Kim Jong-un,” a Cheong Wa Dae presidential office official told reporters on condition of anonymity, according to Yonhap.
The official also said some ASEAN countries had already proposed an invitation to the North Korean leader.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has highlighted the importance of the ASEAN countries in North Korea’s denuclearization process and emphasized the fact that all 10 of the bloc’s member states maintain diplomatic relations with Pyongyang.
ASEAN is also at the center of Moon’s New Southern Policy, which seeks to boost economic and diplomatic ties with the bloc as well as India, Yonhap said.
The Busan summit will be followed by a meeting on Nov. 27 between the five countries located around the Mekong River – Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, press secretary Yoon Do-han said, according to Yonhap.
Moon and Kim held three bilateral summits last year, which proved to be important in convincing Kim to meet with the president of the United States, Donald Trump, in Singapore in June, 2018 and in February in Hanoi, Vietnam.
The Hanoi summit ended abruptly without an expected agreement and highlighted the far-reaching differences between the US and North Korea in their approach to the denuclearization process and sanctions relief.
The disagreement between Kim and Trump revolved around the dismantling process of a number of assets belonging to the North Korean nuclear arsenal and the volume of international sanctions currently weighing on Pyongyang that the US would have to lift in exchange.