Published: Sun, October 21, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

At Vatican, South Korean leader says he's certain of peace

At Vatican, South Korean leader says he's certain of peace

Pope Francis is ready to visit North Korea if its leader, Kim Jong-un, extends a formal invitation, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Thursday after meeting the pontiff, as the Vatican separately said a visit to Taiwan was not in the works.

Pope Francis expressed his willingness Thursday to visit North Korea if officially invited, also saying he will "certainly" respond to such an invitation from the communist state.

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.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivered remarks at a Wednesday evening "Mass for Peace" in St. Peter's Basilica.

In a statement, the Vatican said: "Strong appreciation was expressed for the common commitment to fostering all useful initiatives to overcome the tensions that still exist in the Korean peninsula, in order to usher in a new season of peace and development".

"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.

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"Our prayers today will turn into reality for sure", the South Korean leader said. (. ) President Moon, stood on the podium at Saint Peter's Basilica during a special "Mass for Peace", the first Korean leader to give an address at the event, ... presided over by the Pontiff's top diplomat, Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin. He held an unprecedented summit with a USA president when he met Donald Trump in Singapore in June, with the two leaders promising to work toward denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

In his homily, Parolin prayed for the gift of peace on the Korean peninsula, ... Prayers offered for peace on the Korean Peninsula will resound as echoes of hope in the hearts of the people of the Koreas as well as those around the world who desire peace.

The Vatican's priests were expelled by North Korea long ago and state-appointed laymen officiate services.

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

Following an unusually provocative run of weapons tests last year, Kim has been on a diplomatic offensive since the start of this year, which included the meeting with Moon and one with President Donald Trump.

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