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Pope to Koreas: Work for peace, avoid ‘fruitless’ shows of force

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye (R) talks with Pope Francis at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, August 14, 2014.

POOL/REUTERS

Pope Francis has called for renewed efforts to forge peace on the war-divided Korean Peninsula and for both sides to avoid "fruitless" criticisms and shows of force, opening a five-day visit to South Korea with a message of reconciliation as Seoul's rival, North Korea, fired five projectiles into the sea.

North Korea has a long history of making sure it is not forgotten during high-profile events in the South, and Thursday's apparent test firing made its presence felt.

In the first speech of his first trip to Asia, Francis told South Korean President Park Geun-hye that peace required forgiveness and mutual respect. He said diplomacy must be encouraged so dialogue replaces "mutual recriminations, fruitless criticisms and displays of force."

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