Vatican seeks direct talks with North Korea

What happened?

Pope Francis hopes to open communications with the North Korean regime amid rising tensions between Pyongyang and the United States. According to Cardinal Peter Turkson, who leads the Vatican’s department for Integral Human Development, Rome is “exploring the possibilities of speaking to them directly”.

Cardinal Turkson made the remark at a Vatican conference on nuclear disarmament, at which the Pope condemned the possession of nuclear weapons as “illogical” and wrong.

What the media are saying

There was excitement in the tabloids. “Pope wades into North Korea crisis,” reported the Express – a turn of phrase also used by the Sun, which informed readers: “The Pope is gathering officials and peaceniks as he tries to save the world from nuclear disaster amid the West’s standoff with North Korea.”

However, Italian news agency Ansa reported that Vatican spokesman Greg Burke had poured cold water on these reports. “It is false to talk of mediation,” Burke said. “It is not mediation and it is not a summit either. It is a high-level conference on nuclear disarmament.” Still, the conference itself attracted headlines. Philip Pullella of Reuters observed that Francis “appeared to go further than previous popes” in speaking out against even stockpiling nuclear weapons.

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