Kim Jong Un Invites Pope Francis to North Korea

Oct 10, 2018, 02:00
Kim Jong Un Invites Pope Francis to North Korea

Pompeo said he's "hopeful" global inspectors would soon be allowed on select sites associated with North Korea's missile and nuclear program, and didn't comment on Pyongyang's insistence that inspectors would be allowed into the Yongbyon site only if the USA took corresponding measures.

The Pope has in the past supported dialogue between the two Koreas and the historic summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump, which took place in Singapore on June 12.

The South Korean president hopes the summit will allow a new order to be created throughout the Korean peninsula, eventually leading into Northeast Asia.

Pompeo told reporters in Pyongyang the two "had a great, great visit" and that Trump sent his regards.

"Both the leaders believe there's real progress that can be made, substantive progress that can be made at the next summit", Pompeo said.

Pompeo also met China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi, a Politburo member who heads the ruling Communist Party's foreign affairs commission, though remarks before reporters took a more conventional tone, even as both agreed relations faced many challenges.

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KCNA also said the two sides agreed to hold working negotiations for the second summit as early as possible. That site was dismantled in May before a crowd of journalists, not nuclear experts. North Korea has offered conditionally to close the site, but has not made a public comment on its inspection. It's also possible Pompeo wants to brief Trump - they are scheduled to have lunch on Tuesday - before any announcements are made. Trump said on Twitter that, "Progress made on Singapore Summit Agreements!" He said it set up conditions for another Trump-Kim summit and help denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

Notably Pompeo declined to comment about Yongbyon, the nuclear-fuel-production site that the USA wants to see closed.

But any form of worship is tightly controlled in North Korea, and some churchgoers are persecuted.

He also expressed gratitude towards Trump for making a honest effort to implement the agreements that were made in their previous summit in June.

Though the Vatican confirmed their receipt at the time of an official invitation delivered on behalf of Kim Jong Il by the South Korean ambassador in Rome, the Pope did not in the end travel to North Korea.

There are now an estimated 80,000 to 120,000 people in North Korea's six political prison camps, in which the U.S. State Department has found evidence of starvation, forced labor and torture.

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The North Korean leader told President Moon of his intention when the two men met for a summit last month.

Pompeo tweeted after the meeting, "Had a good trip to #Pyongyang to meet with Chairman Kim".

North Korea is officially atheist and strictly controls religious activities, but its leader has been engaged in intensive diplomatic efforts in recent months as he seeks to have economic sanctions eased.

The latest chapter in the diplomatic flurry comes as Trump sent Pompeo on a whirlwind trip to the region to rekindle stalled denuclearization talks with Pyongyang.

The North's regime since then has allowed Catholic organisations to run aid projects in the impoverished country, but direct relations with the Vatican are non-existent.

The first lady of South Korea, Kim Jung-sook, participated in the Mass with Korean bishops as a part of the festivities.

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Kim has "done very little, and none of what he's done is impeding the progress of his program", said Bruce Bennett, a senior defense analyst at the Rand Corp.