Xi Postpones Korea Visit Until June

Jay Yim, Feb. 4, 2020, 10:44 a.m.

Seoul and Beijing have agreed to postpone Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Korea from March or April to June amid the coronavirus crisis in the world's most populous country.

Cheong Wa Dae announced late last year that Xi will visit in the first half of 2020.

But a diplomatic source said, "China has been very reluctant to commit to March or April due to a scheduled visit to Japan as well as internal circumstances in China due to the coronavirus outbreak, which has led to a postponement until June."

The government here said it will consult with the Chinese government and monitor the spread of the virus as well as other developments there.

Opposition lawmakers had voiced suspicion that the government had been dragging its heels over an entry ban for visitors from China to make sure Xi visits before the general elections in April.

President Moon Jae-in said in a meeting with his chief secretaries on Monday that the ban on visitors who have been to China's Hubei Province, the epicenter of the outbreak, was "unavoidable" to protect public health but did not say whether it will be extended to all of China. The ban came almost two weeks after the first coronavirus infection was confirmed in Korea.

Moon, who marked his 1,000th day in office on Monday, also said he now faces his toughest challenge yet in fighting the outbreak, although he recalled that he had been "always stacked with tasks" since his inauguration in May 2017.

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