President Moon returns home after five-nation trip to Europe

SEOUL, President Moon Jae-in returned home Sunday after a high-stakes trip to Europe that sought to rally international support for his efforts to denuclearize North Korea and establish peace.

Moon's European tour began last Saturday when he embarked on a four-day state visit to France.

He later visited Italy, Belgium and Denmark, in that order.

Any success of his trip was highlighted in Rome, where he also made an official visit to the Vatican for what the Holy See called a rare and exceptional meeting with Pope Francis.

The president delivered an invitation from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for the pope to visit Pyongyang.

The pope, to the apparent amazement of many, said he will be "available" to make such a trip when officially invited by North Korea.

The Vatican earlier said the pope's trip may require certain changes on behalf of the communist state, including its guarantee of freedom of religion.

While in Paris, the president asked France, one of five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, to consider easing U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang when the North's denuclearization reaches a point of no return.

He made a similar request when he met with British Prime Minister Theresa May on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Meeting summit in Brussels. Britain is also a permanent member of the UNSC.

Both May and French President Emmanuel Macron stressed the need to maintain pressure on North Korea to make sure the communist state will "completely, verifiably and irreversibly denuclearize."

Still, they have also agreed on the need to find ways to encourage the North to accelerate its denuclearization process, Moon's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said earlier.

Moon has held three bilateral meetings with the North Korean leader, with their last summit held in Pyongyang last month.

Kim has agreed to reciprocate Moon's recent trip with a visit to Seoul, possibly before the year's end.

Kim, if he visits Seoul, will be the first ever North Korean leader to do so at least since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended only with an armistice, technically leaving the divided Koreas still at war.

SEOUL, President Moon Jae-in returned home Sunday after a high-stakes trip to Europe that sought to rally international support for his efforts to denuclearize North Korea and establish peace.

Moon's European tour began last Saturday when he embarked on a four-day state visit to France.

He later visited Italy, Belgium and Denmark, in that order.

Any success of his trip was highlighted in Rome, where he also made an official visit to the Vatican for what the Holy See called a rare and exceptional meeting with Pope Francis.

The president delivered an invitation from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for the pope to visit Pyongyang.

The pope, to the apparent amazement of many, said he will be "available" to make such a trip when officially invited by North Korea.

The Vatican earlier said the pope's trip may require certain changes on behalf of the communist state, including its guarantee of freedom of religion.

While in Paris, the president asked France, one of five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, to consider easing U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang when the North's denuclearization reaches a point of no return.

He made a similar request when he met with British Prime Minister Theresa May on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Meeting summit in Brussels. Britain is also a permanent member of the UNSC.

Both May and French President Emmanuel Macron stressed the need to maintain pressure on North Korea to make sure the communist state will "completely, verifiably and irreversibly denuclearize."

Still, they have also agreed on the need to find ways to encourage the North to accelerate its denuclearization process, Moon's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said earlier.

Moon has held three bilateral meetings with the North Korean leader, with their last summit held in Pyongyang last month.

Kim has agreed to reciprocate Moon's recent trip with a visit to Seoul, possibly before the year's end.

Kim, if he visits Seoul, will be the first ever North Korean leader to do so at least since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended only with an armistice, technically leaving the divided Koreas still at war.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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