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Moon Tells Pope North Visit Would Help Peace In Korea

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Moon Tells Pope North Visit Would Help Peace In Korea

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in Gives Pope Francis A Statue Of A Cross Made Of Barbed Wire From The Demilitarized Zone Separating The Koreas

Moon, a Catholic, called Francis before the start of the Group of 20 summit in Rome.

The Vatican, which did not allow independent media in the audience, said the talks focused on the role of the Catholic Church in promoting dialogue and said “hopes have been shared as efforts spouses and goodwill can promote peace and development in the Korean Peninsula, supported by solidarity and brotherhood. “

Ahead of the visit, South Korean presidential officials said they expected Moon and Francis to discuss a possible papal visit to the officially atheist North, as Francis had previously expressed a wish to visit if it became possible. . The Vatican made no mention of a possible trip in its Friday statement and none appear to be currently under consideration.

Moon first raised the idea of ​​a papal visit to the North in 2018 when he revealed that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said at a summit among Korean leaders that the Pope would be welcomed. “with enthusiasm”.

Kim was then actively engaged in diplomacy with Seoul and the Trump administration in an effort to leverage its nuclear programs for a relaxation of US-led economic sanctions. But diplomacy has derailed, and the North has also cut off cooperation with South Korea while expressing frustration at the Moon government’s inability to wrest concessions on its behalf from Washington.

Moon told the Pope on Friday that if he had the opportunity to visit North Korea, it would “create momentum for peace on the Korean Peninsula” and that “South Koreans have huge expectations (for a visit Papal North), ”Moon spokesman Park Kyung-mee said.

Park said Francis had told Moon that he would “happily” go to the North if he received an official invitation, so that he could help the Korean people and contribute to peace. He described the inhabitants of the two Koreas as “brothers who share the same language”.

During the exchange of gifts, Francis gave Moon a medallion reproducing Bernini’s original plan for St. Peter’s Square. The design envisions the two main colonnades of Vatican Square embracing humanity in the church. He also gave him copies of some of his main texts, including one outlining his vision of a greater human brotherhood.

The Moon Cross statue was made with barbed wire from the DMZ. An accompanying note, written in Spanish, said he hoped the spikes and iron used to make the barbed wire could be used as a symbol of peace instead.

“I fervently pray that this cross will germinate deep roots and that peace may flourish,” the note said.

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Tong-Hyung Kim reported from Seoul, South Korea.

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