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President Lee invites Pope to Korea

President Lee Myung-bak (left) pays a courtesy visit to Pope Benedict XVI in Italy.President Lee Myung-bak, in Italy on the second leg of his trip to three European nations, made a courtesy call to the Vatican to hold talks with Pope Benedict XVI.

During the visit, President invited the pontiff to visit Korea and the Pope accepted the invitation, saying he will visit Seoul at an appropriate time, according to the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae here.

If the Pope comes to Korea, it will make him the second leader of the Roman Catholic Church to visit Korea. His predecessor, Pope John Paul II, visited Seoul in 1984 and again in 1989.

Also during the meeting, Lee and the Catholic leader talked about issues of mutual concern, including North Korea’s poor human rights conditions and the nuclear matter, as well as global peace.

President Lee asked the Pope to pray for the unification of the two Koreas and peace on the Korean Peninsula, and also for the North Korean people, suffering from poverty and human rights abuses.

The Pope said he believes that it will be difficult to resolve the North Korean issue right away, but hopes that the Catholic Church will do everything it can to help relieve the sufferings of the North Korean people, promising to pray for the peace on the Korean peninsula and the North Korean people.

The Pope also stressed the need for countries to work together to build a society where social justice, peace and the redistribution of wealth are possible, saying that the effect of a recovery from the ongoing global economic crisis will be maximized when it is based on moral values.

Lee showed his respect to the pontiff for his efforts to promote peace and human rights in the world, and also thanked the pontiff for bestowing his blessing upon the funeral of the late Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan last February.

Lee’s trip to Italy will end Saturday, when he will head to Sweden on the last leg of his European tour.

By Han Aran Staff Writer

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