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(2nd LD) Vatican's top diplomat hopes for N. Korea aid

All News 17:51 July 06, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES with talks with S. Korean foreign minister; CHANGES headline)

SEOUL, July 6 (Yonhap) -- The Vatican's top diplomat asked the South Korean government Friday to pay attention to the issue of humanitarian aid for North Korea in tandem with progress in denuclearization efforts, Seoul's foreign ministry said.

Meeting with South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha here, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican's secretary for relations with states, reaffirmed its continued support for the country's initiative to rid the peninsula of nuclear weapons and establish a peace regime.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha (R) shakes hands with Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican's secretary for relations with states, before their talks in Seoul on July 6, 2018, in this photo provided by Seoul's foreign ministry. (Yonhap)

He recalled his experience in traveling to the North himself and "expressed hope that (South Korea) will cooperate with the international community on the resumption of humanitarian assistance" for the country in parallel with making headway in its denuclearization, the ministry said.

He told Kang he could enhance understanding of the reality of a divided Korea through his tour a day earlier of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) bisecting the peninsula.

"So it was a little bit like that yesterday, making a relatively short journey of Panmunjom and then seeing the reality being introduced by the military there, both Korean and American, and to understand the very delicate situation that exists there, which makes the efforts to promote denuclearization, unification and peace on the peninsula very, very pertinent indeed," he said at the outset of the talks with Kang.

He also said it is the responsibility of all the Catholic believers to "mobilize every possible (opportunity) to make peace" on the Korean Peninsula.

The ministers also exchanged views on various global issues, including refugee crises and Syria.

The Vatican official arrived in Seoul on Wednesday for a six-day trip as the two sides mark the 55th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties this year.

He is the first Vatican foreign minister to travel to South Korea.

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