Wednesday, 23 January, 2019

Kim Jong-un asks South to invite Pope to Pyongyang

North Korean government North Korean leader Kim Jong Un center left and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo walk together before their meeting in Pyongyang North Korea Sunday Oct. 7 2018. Pompeo said that he and Kim Kim Jong-un asks South to invite Pope to Pyongyang
Melinda Barton | 09 October, 2018, 18:00

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has invited the pontiff to visit the country's capital, Yonhap reported.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has invited Pope Francis to visit Pyongyang, the South Korean presidential office said on Tuesday.

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.

Pompeo told journalists in Seoul that the leader had agreed to open up the Punggye-ri nuclear testing site to inspectors.

"But we do think right that this is a place where ultimately some of these big hard issues have to be resolved by the nation's most senior leaders and hope to have those presented in a way that the two leaders can resolve them when they get together". On the plane ride back to Rome, he expressed hope that the divisions would be overcome, saying "the two Koreas are brothers, they speak the same language".

Wang said Pompeo proposed his visit to China, and the Chinese side was willing to arrange meetings.

The secretary of state said the two sides were "pretty close" to deciding on a time and place for the second summit, declining to provide details.

Pompeo has refused to discuss details of negotiations, including a USA position on North Korea's demand for a formal end to the Korean War and a proposal from Seoul for such a declaration to be accompanied by a shutdown of the North's main known nuclear facility.

He briefed Wang on his visit to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), voiced the USA side's appreciation of China's consistent position on the Korean Peninsula and its efforts on denuclearization, and expressed a willingness to continue related cooperation.

Kim held an unprecedented summit with US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June, and pledged to work toward denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

"We demand that the U.S. side immediately stop its wrong actions and words".

He said Chinese leader Xi Jinping was also expected to travel to North Korea but did not elaborate further. Trump cancelled Pompeo's planned trip to Pyongyang in August, citing little evidence that North Korea had followed through on any of its commitments to denuclearize.

If ties between the two countries continued to deteriorate, there could be "profound changes" in the strategic environment for such regional issues as North Korea, China's state-backed Global Times tabloid warned in an editorial.

The challenge for the US remains stark: American administrations for decades have been stymied by North Korean intransigence on its nuclear program, and the rapport between Trump and Kim hasn't resolved that issue.

"These actions have damaged our mutual trust, cast a shadow over the future of China-US relations, and go against the interests of the people of the two countries", Wang told Pompeo.

"I know that you would like to discuss the North Korea issue and other relational issues with me on this visit", Wang said.