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The leaders of South and North Korea at the Peace House on the Demilitarized Zone on the border between the two nations The leaders of South and North Korea at the Peace House on the Demilitarized Zone on the border between the two nations  (ANSA)

Pope and Korean bishops welcome the positive outcome of "Two Koreas" Summit

As Pope Francis and the Catholic Bishops of Korea welcome progress in relations, North Korea is offering to scrap its nuclear weapons if the United States promises not to attack. That's according to the government in South Korea, where further details are emerging about Friday's summit between the two countries' leaders.

By Alastair Wanklyn

Pope Francis on Sunday said he is accompanying with prayers the process set off by the leaders of North and South Korea during an historic summit this week.

He said he is praying for continued collaboration and friendship between the neighbouring countries and for the elimination of nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula.

His words came following the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s pledge on Friday to pursue a future free of war.

And he privately told South Korea he'll give up nuclear weapons if, among other things, the United States offers a non-aggression pact. That's according to a spokesman for South Korea's president.

The spokesman went on say Kim promised to shut North Korea's nuclear test site in May. Kim said he will invite foreign experts to observe, the spokesman added.

In their public declaration, Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed to resume work on cross-border communications, including road and railway links. On Sunday the South's transport ministry said it has begun reviewing construction plans that previously were drawn up and then suspended when relations soured.

And a government minister said on Sunday that Seoul will push for the Red Cross to begin talks as soon as possible on reuniting elderly North and South Koreans divided by the Korean War. The minister added, it takes time to arrange family reunions, so the matter is receiving priority.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Korea has welcomed the summit's outcome. In a statement, Archbishop Kim Hee-jung said God is answering the prayers of Catholics and is rewarding recent work on reconciliation by the Church and by aid agency Caritas International Korea.

Listen to Alastair Wanklyn's report
29 April 2018, 17:22