THREE short-range missiles were launched by North Korea as Pope Francis’ plane was landing in South Korea.
The missiles travelled a distance of roughly 220km to land safely in the sea, and have been described by the regime in Pyongyang as retaliation for American-led weapons testing in South Korea, due to take place on Monday. A further two projectiles were fired after the Pope had landed.
North Korea regularly fires rockets into the sea to express its dissatisfaction at South Korea’s close relationship with the US.
The pontiff touched down at Incheon airport, Seoul at 10.15am local time to begin a five-day tour of the country. He was greeted by South Korea’s President Park Geun-Hye, before they attended a welcome reception at the presidential palace.
Speaking in English, Pope Francis called for peace between the two Koreas. He said: “Korea should not be discouraged in the pursuit of peace, unity and justice, but tear down the wall of hatred and mistrust, to promote a culture of reconciliation and solidarity.”
The Pope also paid his respects to China as he passed through Chinese airspace, in a move seen as significant because there has been no formal relationship between China and the Vatican since 1949.
This is the first visit to Asia by a Pope since 1999, when Pope John Paul II went to India.