Pope: Mediate crisis

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE – Pope Francis said on Saturday a third country, such as Norway, should try to mediate the dispute between North Korea and Washington, to cool a situation that had become “too hot” and posed the risk of nuclear devastation.

The Pope said he believed “a good part of humanity” would be destroyed in any widespread war.

Speaking to reporters aboard the plane taking him back from Cairo, the Pope said he was ready to meet US President Donald Trump in Europe next month, but that he was not aware that Washington had made a request for a meeting.

In answer to a question about the tensions between the United States and North Korea, the Pope said the United Nations should reassert its leadership in world diplomacy because it had become “too watered down”.

“I call on, and will call on, all leaders, as I have called on leaders of various places, to work to seek a solution to problems through the path of diplomacy,” he said about the North Korea crisis.

Representatives for the White House did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The Pope spoke after North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile shortly after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned that failure to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs could lead to “catastrophic consequences”.

“There are so many facilitators in the world, there are mediators who offer themselves, such as Norway for example,” he said in his customary freewheeling news conference with reporters at the end of each trip.

“It (Norway) is always ready to help. That is just one but there are many. But the path is the path of negotiations, of a diplomatic solution,” he said in the discussion, which lasted about 30 minutes. Norway secretly negotiated an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians known as the Oslo Accords in the early 1990s.

The Pope expressed his deep concern over the crisis, saying: “This question of missiles in (North) Korea has been brewing for more than a year but now it seems the situation has become too hot.”

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