NORTH KOREA – North Korea’s Kim invites Pope Francis to visit Pyongyang, Seoul says

The Japan Times | Oct. 9, 2018

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has invited Pope Francis to visit Pyongyang, a spokesman for South Korea’s presidential Blue House said Tuesday.

“Chairman Kim said he will ‘ardently welcome the pope if he visits Pyongyang,’” spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said according to a readout of the news briefing. The spokesman was announcing details about South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s planned visit to Europe next week, which includes a stop at the Vatican on Oct. 17 and 18.

Moon was expected to deliver the message from the North Korean leader when he meets with the pope.

At their meeting, Moon will seek Francis’ support for the ongoing push for peace on the Korean Peninsula and discuss future ways to cooperate with the Vatican, the Blue House spokesman added.

Francis has in recent months expressed his backing for continued inter-Korean engagement, even meeting with representatives from both Koreas in June.

In April, he applauded Kim and Moon for their “courageous” step toward unity, saying he prays for “the positive success of the Inter-Korean summit … and the courageous commitment assumed by the leaders of the two parts to carry out a path of sincere dialogue for a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons.”