|Vatican||POPE PRAISES SOUTH KOREA'S AID EFFORT|
Urging other countries to help North Koreans suffering from hunger, Pope John Paul II praised South Korea's humanitarian aid to the North in a meeting Saturday with the South's president.
President Kim Dae-jung visited the Vatican during a 10-day European tour to gather support for efforts aimed at eventually uniting the two Koreas and defusing tensions there. John Paul warmly greeted Kim, who is Catholic, and met privately with him for nearly a half-hour. The two exchanged written speeches, copies of which were released by the Vatican.
In his speech, the pope singled out Kim's 'fresh initiatives to foster inter-Korean dialogue'.
"Certainly, the path of reconciliation will be long and difficult," he said. "Yet, despite the obstacles, you have not allowed yourselves to become discouraged in your endeavors to establish a climate of good and harmonious relations."
Noting the suffering in North Korea from floods and repeated poor harvests, John Paul said South Korea had shown its commitment to better relations by coming to the assistance of the North.