South Korea urges North to respond positively to Pope’s proposed visit

Seoul, Nov 1 (EFE).- South Korea Monday urged the North to respond positively to Pope Francis’ proposed visit to the reclusive state to promote peace in the region.

The Unification Ministry said the Pope had reaffirmed his intention to visit North Korea during his meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the Vatican last week.

Moon reiterated, in a Facebook post, that the Pope had expressed his intention for a trip to North Korea as he “has continued to pray for peace on the Korean peninsula.”

“As the Pope’s willingness to visit North Korea has been reaffirmed, we hope the North would respond and pave the way for fostering peace on the Korean Peninsula,” ministry spokesperson Lee Jong-Joo told reporters.

Francis Friday received Moon at the Vatican Apostolic Palace on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome.

The South Korean president gifted the Pope a cross made of barbed wire from the demilitarized zone on the border between the two neighbors, technically still at war since the conflict between 1950 and 1953 ended with a ceasefire instead of a peace treaty.

Moon and Francis met for the first time in 2018 during a state visit to Italy by the president, who sent the pontiff an invitation from the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, to visit his country.

However, the trip did not materialize after diplomatic tensions escalated between Pyongyang, Seoul, and Washington in 2019 following the failure of the Hanoi summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and then-US president Donald Trump.

Moon, who will leave office in May, has proposed to promote the signing of a peace treaty with North Korea to revitalize the denuclearization talks before the end of his term.

“I think the peace clock on the Korean peninsula will start ticking briskly again,” Moon said in his Facebook message. EFE


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