North Korea's Kim Jong Un would 'ardently welcome' visit by Pope Francis

North Korea's Kim Jong Un would 'ardently welcome' visit by Pope Francis

A meeting of top U.S. and Chinese diplomats got off to a frosty start on Monday, with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councillor Wang Yi airing grievances amid worsening bilateral relations.

"These actions have affected the mutual trust between both sides and have cast a shadow over the prospect of China-US relations, which completely go against the interest of our two peoples", Wang said.

Pompeo and Kim also discussed "denuclearisation steps that will be taken by North Korea and the issue of attendance by the U.S. government", as well as "corresponding measures" to be taken by the United States, the statement said.

It comes a day after the North Korean leader agreed to hold a second summit with US President Donald Trump "as early as possible", following a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Pyongyang.

Pompeo spent around 3.5 hours with Kim in Pyongyang on Sunday, in a formal meeting and then at lunch, talks he later described as "productive" and "another step forward" in negotiations to convince North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.

In 2016, Cato Institute senior fellow Doug Bandow wrote in Forbes that North Korea is "the globe's number one religious persecutor".

But this time, the North Korean reaction to the talks was much more positive.

In Seoul, Pompeo said Kim is expected soon to name Deputy Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui as a counterpart for his new special envoy for North Korea, former Ford executive Stephen Biegun, who accompanied him on the trip. Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that Kim had "warmly welcomed" Pompeo in Pyongyang and "spoke highly of him".

The North Korean leader had told Mr Moon about his plan when the two met last month.

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Mr Pompeo said he wanted "a fully coordinated, unified view of how to proceed, which will be what is needed if we are going to be successful in denuclearising North Korea".

Francis visited South Korea in August 2014. "We are not quite there yet".

While Trump is seeking a second meeting with Kim - possibly ahead of the November 6 voting - he's sending Pence in his place to regional summits planned for next month in Singapore and Papua New Guinea.

Stephen Biegun, the US special representative for North Korea who accompanied Pompeo to Pyongyang, said he offered to meet his counterpart, Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, "as soon as possible" and they were in discussion over time and place.

A spokesman for South Korean President Moon Jae-in made the announcement ahead of Moon's trip to Europe next week, where he will visit the Vatican and extend Kim's invitation to Pope Francis in person.

Francis will meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in October 18.

Kim's push for greater global recognition is also aimed at softening his image and weakening the US-led "maximum pressure" campaign.

Moon also said the North will "permanently dismantle" its missile engine testing site and launch platform in the northwestern town of Tongchang-ri in the presence of experts from "concerned countries".

The South Korean president hopes the summit will allow a new order to be created throughout the Korean peninsula, eventually leading into Northeast Asia.

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