North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has invited Pope Francis to visit Pyongyang in a gesture designed to highlight peace efforts on the Korean Peninsula, South Korea's presidential office has said. South Korean President Moon Jae-in will deliver Kim's invitation when he meets Francis next week during a trip to Europe, Blue House spokesperson Kim Eui-kyeom said on Tuesday. Kim has been intensely engaged in diplomacy in recent months in what is being seen as an effort to leverage his nuclear weapons programme for an easing of economic sanctions and military pressure. North Korea and the Vatican have no formal diplomatic relations. The invitation to the pope is the first by a North Korean leader since 2000.
South Korea's president said he was certain peace could be achieved on the Korean Peninsula ahead of an audience on Thursday with Pope Francis where he's expected to extend an invitation from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to visit the reclusive country. President Moon Jae-in, who is Catholic, spoke at the end of an evening mass at the Vatican, saying the prayers offered at the service would "resound as echoes of hope in the hearts of the people of the two Koreas as well as the people of the whole world who desire peace". "Our prayers today will turn into reality for sure," he said. "We will achieve peace and overcome division without fail." The South Korean leader signed a broad agreement with Kim last month designed to reduce military tensions on the Peninsula.
VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis has hailed a "two Koreas" summit this week on the Korean Peninsula as an opportunity to start dialogue, and urged those involved to "have the courage" to be "artisans of peace." Francis at the Vatican Wednesday asked for prayers for "both those of the South and of the North" of Korea. U.S.-allied South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will meet Friday in the Demilitarized Zone between the Koreas, a summit that could lay the ground for U.S. President Donald Trump's planned meeting with the North Korean dictator. Francis called the summit "a favorable occasion to start a transparent dialogue and a concrete route toward reconciliation and regained brotherhood with the aim of guaranteeing peace on the Korean Peninsula and in the entire world."
FILE - In this Sept. 19, 2018, file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during a joint press conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the Paekhwawon State Guesthouse in Pyongyang, North Korea. South Korea says North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wants Pope Francis to visit North Korea. South Korea's presidential office in a statement on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018, said Kim told President Moon Jae-in during their summit last month that the pope would be "enthusiastically" welcomed in Pyongyang. FILE - In this Sept. 26, 2018 file photo, Pope Francis arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. South Korea says North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wants Pope Francis to visit North Korea.
VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis warned Monday that "humanity risks suicide" with the increased threat of nuclear confrontation between the U.S. and North Korea -- a threat that will dominate a Vatican conference gathering 11 Nobel peace laureates, top U.N. and NATO officials and ambassadors from key countries. The Vatican announced details of the Nov. 10-11 conference Monday, saying it was part of the Vatican's longstanding effort to promote a nuclear weapons-free world. Vatican spokesman Greg Burke denied that the conference, first reported by La Repubblica newspaper, represented a mediation effort by Francis. The pope has already urged Washington and Pyongyang to step back from the brink of war and accept mediation efforts by others, telling reporters in April that "a good part of humanity" would be destroyed if tensions on the Korean peninsula escalated. On Monday, Francis visited staff of the Vatican office organizing the conference and warned that "humanity risks suicide" with nuclear war, Flaminia Giovanelli, undersecretary in the office, told Vatican Radio.