Singaporean charged with supplying prohibited luxury items to North Korea

North Korea slams US for 'evil' sanctions push

Tourists may soon get the chance to take the ideal selfie in the highly fortified border zone between North and South Korea, where the countries two leaders had a first historic handshake in April.

Pope Francis indicated a willingness to visit North Korea during a private audience Thursday with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, according to Vatican and South Korean officials.

Kim told Moon, a Catholic, of his wish to meet the pontiff during a meeting last month and the South Korean leader announced before the trip that he would be relaying a message.

The Joint Security Area last November was the scene of the dramatic defection of Oh Chong-song, who was shot multiple times as he dashed across the border to the South. A trip that would be the first by a pope to officially atheist North Korea would need "serious preparation and consideration", Parolin said. Moon's office has said during their summit, Kim said the pope would be "enthusiastically" welcomed in North Korea.

Moon's spokesman also quoted the pope as saying that he "strongly" backed the peace process, telling the South Korean leader to "march ahead without stopping", adding: "Do not be afraid". "The spirit of inclusion and alliance that the European Union has been working to realize is giving inspirations in our journey toward lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula", he said in an address after the mass.

"If the invitation comes, I will surely respond to it, and I can possibly go", the pope responded, according to the South Koreans.

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President Moon Jae-in gives a speech at Basilica of St. Peter in Rome on Wednesday.

"The prayer for peace on the Korean Peninsula that resounded at St. Peter's Basilica today will echo in the hearts of the people in South Korea, North Korea and all the rest of the world who hope for peace", Moon said. The Vatican insisted at the time a papal visit would only be possible if Catholic priests were accepted in North Korea.

Church officials estimate that North Korea had a Catholic community of about 55,000 just before the 1950-53 Korean War.

The president asked the Vatican to continue praying for peace on the peninsula.

Later at a banquet, Cardinal Parolin said he appreciated Moon's efforts to keep the denuclearization talks alive, and his role in setting up June's summit in Singapore between Kim and President Trump.

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