Moon Jae-in asks Pope Francis to visit North Korea

Rome:  President Moon Jae-in of South Korea has asked Pope Francis to visit North Korea in order to bring peace to the Korean Peninsula, and the latter has responded positively, saying he is willing to do so if he receives an invitation from Pyongyang, according to an official. According to media reports, Moon made the offer during a meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday, saying that a papal visit to North Korea would provide momentum for bringing peace to the Korean Peninsula.

According to presidential spokesperson Park Kyung-mee, Moon told the Pope, "If the pontiff visits North Korea when the opportunity arises, it will be momentum for peace on the Korean Peninsula." According to Park, the Pope encouraged Moon, saying, "If (North Korea) sends a letter of invitation, I am willing to go there for peace and help all of you." According to Park, Moon and Pope Francis also discussed the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, and other pressing issues. North Korea has no formal diplomatic relations with the Vatican, so no pontiff has ever visited the country.

The Pope has previously expressed interest in visiting North Korea and has called for peace on the peninsula. Moon delivered a verbal invitation from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to Pope Francis during a meeting in 2018, and Francis said at the time that he would visit Pyongyang if Pyongyang sent him an official invitation.

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