North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has invited Pope Francis to visit, saying he would be “ardently welcomed”, South Korea’s presidency said on Tuesday.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in will have an audience with the Pope during a visit to the Vatican from October 17 to 18, adding it would pass on Pyongyang’s message to the Vatican.
“During the meeting with Pope Francis, President Moon will relay the message from chairman Kim Jong Un that he would ardently welcome the pope if he visits Pyongyang,” Moon’s spokesman, Kim Eui-kyeom, told reporters.
Moon is embarking on a nine-day tour of Europe from October 13 to 21 that will include stops in France, Italy and Denmark on top of the Vatican.
The doveish Moon has pushed rapprochement with Kim, meeting him three times in the last year.
During the most recent face to face — a visit to Pyongyang last month — Moon was accompanied by South Korean Archbishop Hyginus Kim Hee-joong.
During a conversation with the visiting archbishop, Kim urged him to let the Vatican know his intention to build peace, according to Moon’s spokesman.