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U.N. chief likely to visit Korea this month: source

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will likely visit South Korea this month to attend a series of international conferences, a source with relevant knowledge said Wednesday, as all eyes turn towards whether he will compete in the next presidential race.

The South Korean native has long been a favorite among potential candidates for the December 2017 presidential election, although Ban has repeatedly denied interest in domestic politics.

According to the source, the U.N. chief will attend the U.N. Department of Public Information and Non-Governmental Organizations Conference in Gyeongju, 371 kilometers south of Seoul, from May 30 to June 1.

He is also widely expected to speak at the Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity on the southern resort island of Jeju on May 26, but the forum's organizers have said it's too early to confirm his attendance.

In between the two conferences, Ban is expected to make a trip to Japan to attend a summit of the Group of 7 major advanced economies, the source said. The U.N. has yet to make any announcement on Ban's schedule.

If realized, Ban's visit to South Korea will be a major focus of media attention especially after the ruling party's crushing defeat in the April parliamentary elections, which effectively eliminated all other potential candidates from the conservative camp.

The U.N. chief is set to step down at the end of this year after completing his second five-year term.

Incumbent South Korean President Park Geun-hye's single five-year term ends in early 2018, and by law, she cannot seek re-election. (Yonhap)
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