North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wants Pope Francis to visit the officially atheist country, South Korea has said on Tuesday.
According to AP, South Korea’s presidential office said in a statement that Kim told President Moon Jae-in during their summit last month that the pope would be “enthusiastically” welcomed in North Korea.
This is not the first time North Korea, which strictly controls the religious activities of its people and had expelled catholic priests long ago, is inviting a leader of the Catholic church.
Kim father Kim Jong-Il had in 2000, invited then Pope John Paul II during the inter-Korean summit but a meeting never happened. The Vatican had said that a meeting would only occur if North Korea accepts Catholic priests.
President Moon will convey Kim’s desire for a visit when he visits the Vatican next week.
Vatican has confirmed that Moon will be meeting with the Pope on October 18th.
Moon has also said that Kim may be visiting Russia soon, and will possibly hold a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Following an unusually provocative run of weapons tests last year, Kim has been on a diplomatic offensive since the start of this year.
He held a summit with Moon and U.S. President Donald Trump at which they issued a goal of a nuclear-free peninsula.
Kim has presented himself as an international statesman, sharing food, wine and laughs with South Korean officials and appearing thoroughly at ease during his meeting with Trump in Singapore.