Kim Jong-Un invites Pope Francis to visit North Korea

Lamar Ellis
October 10, 2018

U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo cited "fundamental disagreement" with China's foreign minister during a testy exchange in Beijing that highlighted rising tensions between the world's two largest economies.

The top U.S. diplomat met with the North Korean leader in Pyongyang for two hours before Pompeo flew to South Korea on Sunday afternoon for a two-day visit.

The polite but edgy tone underscored the plunge in US-Chinese relations as the administration of President Donald Trump confronts Beijing over its technology policies and territorial claims in the South China Sea.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has invited Pope Francis to the country's capital city, Pyongyang, South Korea's presidential office announced on 8 October.

Pompeo said he's "hopeful" worldwide 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 U.N. World Food Program said on Tuesday that the supply of food remains precarious in North Korea, where one in five children is stunted by malnutrition.

During Pompeo's meeting in Pyongyang, Kim also invited inspectors to visit the Punggye-ri nuclear test site to "confirm that it has been irreversibly dismantled", the State Department said.

Kim Jong-un and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had lunch and discussed future relations between the two countries.

However, experts questioned what Pompeo had achieved on Sunday on his fourth visit to Pyongyang this year.

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At last month's inter-Korean summit, the North expressed its willingness to close the Yongbyon nuclear complex if Washington takes corresponding action, which Moon said would include a declaration of an end to the 1950-53 Korean War.

The Pontiff visited South Korea in August 2014.

Trump said at the White House that the meeting would "probably" not be in Singapore, where their historic first talks took place in June.

"While the USA side has constantly escalated trade frictions with China, it has also taken actions regarding Taiwan that harm China's core interests", Wang said.

Moon said a second Mr. Trump-Kim summit could be accompanied by major diplomatic developments that could contribute to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and stabilizing peace.

"Since 1965, the Korean Catholic Church has been praying for the true peace of the two Koreas and the reconciliation of the nation", Archbishop Kim Hee-Jung of Gwangju wrote in April, following the first meeting between the Korean leaders and the chairman of the Korean bishops' conference in April.

The spokesman was announcing details about South Korean President Moon Jae-in's planned visit to Europe next week, which includes a stop at the Vatican on October 17 and 18.

Pompeo said progress is being made in efforts to denuclearize the country as talks continue for another possible summit between Trump and Kim.

However, there were no plans for him to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, which was seen as a sign of worsening relations between the two powers.

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