ROME – Two days before the summit between South and North Korea, Pope Francis called it an opportunity for “transparent dialogue.” Moon Jaei-in and Kim Jong Un will meet on Friday, in what will be the first time since the Korean war that the leader of the north enters the south.
“This meeting will be a good opportunity to start a transparent dialogue and a concrete path of reconciliation and of a newfound fraternity, in order to guarantee peace in the Korean peninsula and in the whole world,” Francis said on Wednesday, during his weekly audience in Rome’s St. Peter’s Square.
The main scope of the summit between the two leaders is denuclearization and the improvement of inter-Korean relations. It could help set the stage for a meeting between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump.
The Holy See, the pope said, “supports and encourages all useful and sincere initiatives to build a better future, in the name of encounter and friendship among peoples.”
Addressing those who have “direct political responsibility,” the pope asked them to “have the courage that comes from hope, becoming ‘artisans’ of peace,” while urging them to “continue with confidence the path undertaken for the good of all.”
Francis also said that he prays for the Korean people that “ardently” want peace.
Friday’s summit, the first in 11 years, will take place in the Peace House, located just south of the military demarcation line in the Joint Security Area of Panmunjeom, a “truce village.”
In the run-up to the summit, Pyongyang has taken a number of initiatives including a promise to end nuclear and missile tests and establish a hotline with Seoul. The regime has also signaled it is prepared to accept the presence of U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula, and perhaps even sign a nonaggression pact.
Francis’s calls for peace in the Korean peninsula have been many. Back in 2014, at the beginning of a five day visit to South Korea, he said: “Korea’s quest for peace is a cause close to our hearts.”
In January, addressing envoys from more than 180 countries that have diplomatic ties with the Holy See, he said that it’s “of paramount importance to support every effort at dialogue on the Korean peninsula, in order to find new ways of overcoming the current disputes, increasing mutual trust and ensuring a peaceful future for the Korean people and the entire world.”
On April 1, during his Easter Urbi et Orbi blessing, and when this week’s summit was already in the works, he urged dialogue and peace.
“We implore fruits of dialogue for the Korean peninsula, that the discussions under way may advance harmony and peace within the region,” he said. “May those who are directly responsible act with wisdom and discernment to promote the good of the Korean people and to build relationships of trust within the international community.”