SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea says North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wants Pope Francis to visit North Korea.
South Korea’s presidential office said in a statement Tuesday that Kim told President Moon Jae-in during their summit last month that the pope would be “enthusiastically” welcomed in North Korea.
Kim has been intensely engaged in diplomacy in recent months in what’s seen as an effort to leverage his nuclear weapons program for an easing of economic sanctions and military pressure.
North Korea is officially atheist and strictly controls religious activities.
A similar invitation for then-Pope John Paul II to visit after a 2000 inter-Korean summit never resulted in a meeting. The Vatican insisted that a papal visit would only be possible if Catholic priests were accepted in the country.