South Korean President Moon Jae-in, left, talks with Pope Francis during a private audience at the Vatican, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. South Korea's president is in Italy for a series of meetings that culminated with an audience with Pope Francis at which he's expected to extend an invitation from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to visit. (Alessandro Di Meo/ANSA via AP)

Pope indicates willingness to visit North Korea

October 18, 2018 - 8:06 am

VATICAN CITY (AP) — South Korea's president has met with Pope Francis in a private audience, and his office says that the pontiff indicated his willingness to visit North Korea.

The South Korean presidential office said in a statement Thursday that President Moon Jae-in "conveyed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's desire for a papal visit to North Korea." A formal invitation directly from North Korea will follow.

The office said Francis said that "if the invitation comes, I will surely respond to it, and I can possibly go."

Kim initially indicated his desire for a papal visit during a Korean summit last month.

If it materializes, such a visit would be the first by a pope to North Korea.

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