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Moon heads home with European concessions for N. Korea

COPENHAGEN -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in headed home Saturday, wrapping up a five-nation European tour that was apparently more successful than anticipated, heralding the possibility of a trip by Pope Francis to North Korea.

In a meeting with the pope held in the Vatican on Thursday, President Moon delivered an invitation from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for the pope to visit Pyongyang.

The pope gave conditional but implicit agreement, saying he will be "available" for the trip.

"(I) will unconditionally give an answer if an (official) invitation arrives," the pope was quoted as telling Moon through his interpreter.


Moon's trip began last Saturday when he arrived in Paris on a four-day state visit.

There, he also sought to win concessions for the impoverished North, stressing the need for the UN Security Council to consider easing its sanctions against the North when and if the communist state's denuclearization process reaches a point of no return.

President Emmanuel Macron of France emphasized the need to maintain international sanctions on the North to completely, verifiably and irreversibly denuclearize the country, but said his country will support ways to further accelerate the denuclearization process if North Korea is in fact moving in that direction.

France is one of five permanent members of the UNSC.

Moon also asked for Britain's support for his peace initiative in his bilateral summit with British Prime Minister Theresa May, held on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Meeting summit on Friday.

May agreed on the need to come up with ways to help accelerate the North's denuclearization process while urging Pyongyang to prove its commitment to complete denuclearization with more concrete actions, according to Moon's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.

Moon's departure from Copenhagen, the last leg of his five-nation trip, which also took him to Rome, came after he attended the inaugural summit of the Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030, or P4G.

There, he stressed the importance of joint efforts by both the public and private sectors to address major global challenges, such as poverty and climate change.

The South Korean president is set to arrive home Sunday (Seoul time). (Yonhap)