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.