Pope is conveyed invite from North Korea, signals he will consider it

Pope is conveyed invite from North Korea, signals he will consider it

"President Moon explained our government's efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and establish peace, and President Mattarella highly evaluated President Moon's leadership in establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula", it said in a press release.

South Korea's president has met with Pope Francis in a private audience, and his office says that the pontiff indicated his willingness to visit North Korea.

Moon's office has reported that during the summit, Kim said the pope would be "enthusiastically" welcomed in North Korea - a message he is due to deliver at Thursday's audience.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) and Italian President Sergio Mattarella shake hands before the start of their meeting in Rome on October 17, 2018.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, holds the Eucharist as he celebrates a Mass for peace for the Korean peninsula in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Oct. 17. According to South Korea's Ministry of National Defense, the three parties discussed reducing the number of guard posts in the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) between the two Koreas and further reducing the number of firearms authorised in the Joint Security Area (JSA), where military personnel from both sides are in close proximity.

Under the terms of the Korean War armistice, the US-led United Nations Command (UNC), which fought the war on the South's behalf, administers the southern half of the DMZ. "We'll achieve peace and overcome division without fail".

The pope is expected to visit neighbouring Japan next year and the proposed North Korea visit comes as China improves relations with the Holy See.

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Moon also had an important role in setting up a June meeting between Kim and President Donald Trump that took place in Singapore, where they announced aspirational goals for a nuclear-free peninsula without describing how and when it would occur.

Ruling Democratic Party Rep. Song Young-gil said the North can not give up its nuclear weapons program if the USA does not declare an end to the Korean War.

"In recent months, the pope's prayer and blessing have given the Korean people great encouragement and hope on the path to peace", Moon said.

The Vatican insisted at the time that a papal visit would only be possible if Catholic priests were accepted in North Korea.

No pope has ever visited the communist state.

The Vatican previously has said a papal trip to North Korea may first require the nation to incorporate changes such as allowing for freedom of religion.

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