Pope Francis has expressed his support for President Donald Trump’s diplomatic talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The Roman Catholic Church leader reportedly supported President Trump’s highly publicized trip to North Korea, being the first American president to enter the Communist country.
“A few hours ago we saw in Korea a good example of a culture of encounter,” stated Francis, as quoted by Catholic News Agency’s Roman Bureau Chief Cindy Wooden on Sunday.
“I greet the protagonists & pray that this significant gesture marks a further step in a journey of peace, not only on the Peninsula but for the whole world.”
Trump met Kim on the border between North and South Korea in an impromptu meeting held Sunday as part of talks on issues like denuclearization.
“We've agreed that we're each going to designate a team, and the team will try and work out some details, and again, speed is not the object. We want to see if we can do a really comprehensive good deal,” stated Trump, as reported by CBS.
Some have been critical of the Sunday meeting, arguing that there was little tangible progress made. Others have taken issue with the talks in light of North Korea’s ongoing human rights violations.
“While GOP politicians scream ‘socialist’ at us for wanting workers to have a living wage and health care Trump is befriending a real-life communist dictator whose regime tortured and murdered Otto Warmbier and stockpiles nuclear weapons,” tweeted Democratic Congressman Don Beyer of Virginia.
In the past, the pontiff has been known to be critical of Trump. During the 2016 Republican presidential primary, Francis criticized Trump’s views on immigration.
“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” he stated at the time, following a six-day visit to Mexico.
In response, then candidate Trump stated at a campaign rally in Kiawah Island, South Carolina that he considered Francis’ comments “disgraceful” and questioned whether he was being influenced by the Mexican government.
"The pope is being told that 'Donald Trump is not a nice person.' Donald Trump is a very nice person. I am a very nice person," said Trump at the rally.
"And I'm a very good Christian because the pope said something to the effect that maybe Donald Trump isn't Christian and he's questioning my faith. I was surprised to see it but I am a Christian and proud of it."