Pope praises Trump-Kim meeting as significant gesture, raises hopes for peace

Popes Francis waves during the weekly general audience at the Vatican, June 26, 2019. REUTERS/Yara Nardi

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis praised on Sunday the meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and said he hoped it would lead to peace.

“In the last few hours we saw in Korea a good example of the culture of encounter. I salute the protagonists, with a prayer that such a significant gesture will be a further step on the road to peace, not only on that peninsula, but for the good of the entire world,” he told thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square for his weekly address and blessing.

Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to set foot in North Korea on Sunday when he met its leader, Kim Jong Un, in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between the two Koreas and agreed to resume stalled nuclear talks..

When he met the pope last year, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who is Catholic, relayed a verbal invitation from Kim to Francis for the pontiff to visit North Korea.

Vatican officials have said the pope, who has made many appeals for rapprochement between the two Koreas, would consider such a trip under certain conditions if it could help the cause of peace.

Moon said the pope, who is due to visit nearby Japan this year, told him he would “definitely answer” a formal, written invitation from Kim. Such an invitation is not believed to have been yet made.

Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Catherine Evans