Wednesday, 16 January, 2019


Seoul says Kim Jong Un wants Pope Francis to visit North Korea

Kim Jong Un invites Pope Francis to North Korea Seoul says Kim Jong Un wants Pope Francis to visit North Korea
Bennie Garza | 09 October, 2018, 21:56

North Korean state media KCNA said: "Kim Jong-un expressed satisfaction over the productive and wonderful talks with Mike Pompeo at which mutual stands were fully understood and opinions exchanged".

Tensions are rising: USA and Chinese destroyers had a near-miss in the South China Sea recently near Gaven Reef, part of the disputed Spratly archipelago where China has developed military outposts.

"Chairman Kim (Jong-un) said he will "ardently welcome the Pope if he visits Pyongyang"," said presidential spokesperson Kim Eui-kyeom, according to Yonhap news agency.

The Vatican said in a statement that the pope will receive Moon at noon (1000 GMT) on October 17.

"We will make - we will figure it out and make it work", Pompeo told his greeter.

Asked whether Xi had declined a meeting because of disagreements between the two sides, Pompeo said: "I expect they'll also raise the issues that they're happy with".

During a closed meeting with President Moon Jae-in, Pompeo said he and Kim agreed to arrange the second US-North Korea summit "at the earliest possible date" and to continue to discuss the specifics of date and location, Moon's office said earlier.

The United States has also angered China with arms sales to Taiwan and new rules allowing top-level USA officials to travel to the island, though Washington still recognises Beijing over Taipei.

North Korea entered talks with the US and South Korea earlier this year, saying it's willing to negotiate away its advancing nuclear arsenal. In June, NBC News reported that an updated intelligence assessment concluded that North Korea was stepping up production of fuel for nuclear weapons at secret sites across the country. He is to work with South Korea, Japan, China, Russia and other countries that have an interest in the talks.

Pope Francis has made repeated public appeals for peace on the Korean peninsula, and led the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square in prayers for the U.S.

North Korea's state newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, featured eight photos of the meeting on its front page, including shots of Kim and Pompeo smiling and shaking hands, as well as some with Kim's sister Kim Yo Jong.

Trump said "eventually we're going to have lots of meetings on U.S. soil and on their soil by the way".

The KCNA said that Kim also expressed "will" and "conviction" to make progress on issues of mutual concern, apparently indicating the denuclearization talks that have nearly been stalled since the June summit in Singapore.

During last month's summit, Kim also reaffirmed efforts to ease military tension on the flashpoint peninsula but remained vague on measures on how to dismantle his widely-feared atomic arsenal.

In Seoul, Pompeo said he and Kim had agreed to soon begin working-level talks on details of denuclearisation and placement of worldwide inspectors at one of North Korea's main nuclear facilities.

But once he arrived in Beijing, the agenda swiftly pivoted to the burgeoning acrimony between the world's two biggest economies, sparked by US President Trump's trade war and fuelled by his allegations that the Chinese government is "meddling" in next month's mid-term elections.

Wang said the North Korean issue shows that Beijing and Washington "can and should increase communication and cooperation".

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