Kim Jong Un invites Pope Francis to Pyongyang

Kim Jong Un invites Pope Francis to Pyongyang

The invitation to the Pope is the first to a leader of the Catholic Church by a North Korean leader since 2000.

Tensions are rising: US and Chinese destroyers had a near-miss in the South China Sea recently near Gaven Reef, part of the disputed Spratly archipelago where China has developed military outposts.

The Vatican said in a statement that the pope will receive Moon at noon (1000 GMT) on October 17.

Trump, tweeting from Washington shortly after Pompeo left North Korea, cited progress Pompeo had made on agreements Trump and Kim reached at their June summit in Singapore and said, "I look forward to seeing Chairman Kim again, in the near future".

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.

A US decision to sell $330 million of military equipment to Taiwan on September 26 and a four-page supplement, sponsored by the official China Daily newspaper, published in Iowa's Des Moines Register on September 30 further ratcheted up tensions. A series of diplomatic understandings on Taiwan - in which the Communist Party tolerates American weapons sales while the US accepts Beijing as the capital of "one China" - underpin more than four decades of relations between the two sides. He is to work with South Korea, Japan, China, Russia and other countries that have an interest in the talks.

The North Korean leader also invited inspectors to visit the Punggye-ri nuclear test facility, which Pyongyang took apart in May, "to confirm that it has been irreversibly dismantled", the State Department said.

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North Korea took apart the Punggye-ri facility in the country's northeast in May but has yet to allow global observers into the site to verify its claims.

"President Trump is very close to losing control", he said.

Kim has also held a series of talks with Moon, opening up dialogue between the two countries, which have technically been at war for decades.

He came away from it saying the two sides had made progress, only for North Korea to denounce him for making "gangster-like" demands and raising "cancerous" issues.

Pompeo told reporters in Pyongyang the two "had a great, great visit" and that Trump sent his regards.

There are doubts whether Kim is willing to fully relinquish his country's nuclear weapons, which he may see as a stronger guarantee of survival than whatever security assurances the United States could provide. In Beijing, Pompeo met his Chinese counterparts to discuss maintaining sanctions, although unrelated disputes between the two countries spilled into public view and he didn't meet with President Xi Jinping. A second summit in the coming weeks could boost Trump ahead of USA midterm elections in November, but a failure to secure any measurable commitments would undercut what the president has seen so far as a clear foreign policy strength.

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