Pope to Koreas: Avoid ‘fruitless’ shows of force



SEOUL, South Korea — Pope Francis called Thurs­day for peace and unity on the war-di­vided Korean Pen­in­sula and for both sides to avoid “fruit­less” crit­i­cisms and shows of force, of­fer­ing a mes­sage of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion at the start of a five-day visit to South Korea that re­ceived a stark re­sponse from the North.

North Korea fired three short-range pro­jec­tiles into the sea off its east­ern coast about an hour be­fore Pope Francis landed in Seoul, and two oth­ers a short while later. North Korea has con­ducted sev­eral such tests this year, and it also has a long his­tory of mak­ing sure it is not for­got­ten dur­ing high-pro­file events in the South.

Nei­ther Pope Francis nor South Korean Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye re­ferred to the fir­ings in their speeches at Seoul’s pres­i­den­tial pal­ace, and the Vat­i­can spokes­man sought to down­play the in­ci­dent al­to­gether, say­ing he wasn’t even sure the pope had been told.

In the first speech of his first trip to Asia, Pope Francis told Ms. Park, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and re­gional dip­lo­mats that peace re­quired justice — and that justice in turn re­quires for­give­ness, co­op­er­a­tion and mu­tual re­spect. He said di­plo­macy must be en­cour­aged so that lis­ten­ing and di­a­logue re­place “mu­tual re­crim­i­na­tions, fruit­less crit­i­cisms and dis­plays of force.”

North Korea’s ap­par­ent test fir­ing was con­ducted from Won­san on its east coast, ac­cord­ing to a South Korean De­fense Min­is­try of­fi­cial who spoke on con­di­tion of an­o­nym­ity, cit­ing of­fice rules. It wasn’t im­me­di­ately clear what the pro­jec­tiles were.

East Asia - Asia - China - Greater China - South Korea - Seoul - Beijing - North Korea - China government - Xi Jinping - Park Geun-hye - South Korea government - Pope Francis - Pope John Paul II - Alitalia


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