When South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un met last month in Pyongyang, the North's capital, both sides agreed to disarm Panmunjom to turn it into what South Korea hopes will become a "symbol of peace" on the divided peninsula.
"If the invitation comes, I will surely respond to it, and I can possibly go", the pope responded, according to the South Koreans.
Kim told Moon during their most recent meeting that he wished for the pope to visit North Korea, according to the Blue House, South Korea's presidential office and residence.
The Vatican insisted at the time that a papal visit would only be possible if Catholic priests were accepted in North Korea.
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A Vatican statement made no mention of the verbal invitation from Kim.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) and Italian President Sergio Mattarella shake hands before the start of their meeting in Rome on October 17, 2018.
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It spoke only of "the promotion of dialogue and reconciliation between Koreans" and "the common commitment to fostering all useful initiatives to overcome the tensions that still exist in the Korean Peninsula, in order to usher in a new season of peace and development". He spends Wednesday meeting with Italian leaders and attending an evening "Mass for Peace" in St. Peter's Basilica along with the pope's top diplomat, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state.
After their private meeting, Moon presented the pope with a Korean artist's sculpture of Christ's face adorned with a crown of thorns.
The pope expressed his support for Moon's efforts to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Before departing, Moon thanked the pope again for welcoming him and said, "You are not only the head of the Catholic Church, but also a teacher for humanity".
Thursday's meeting between the pope and the South Korean leader began shortly after Moon arrived in the Holy See at around noon.
South Korea's foreign minister, Kang Kyung-wha, told Reuters that U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo recently expressed "discontent" with the agreement between North and South Korea, which Reuters reported includes the no-fly zone and "a gradual removal of landmines and guard posts within the Demilitarised Zone".
In his homily, Parolin prayed for the gift of peace on the Korean peninsula, ...