Tony Campolo: Obama should meet Kim Jong-un

A North Korean soldier watches the South Korean side at the border village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in South KoreaAP

Dr Tony Campolo is calling upon US President Barack Obama to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un following weeks of threatening statements from the communist country.

Mr Obama has so far refused requests from Kim to meet in person for talks. However Campolo, a popular evangelical speaker and author, urged the leaders to pursue every diplomatic avenue to ensure peace before tensions in the region escalate.

"We need to find ways to make friends with North Korea," said Campolo, former spiritual adviser to President Bill Clinton.

"If your enemy hungers you should feed him, if he's naked you should clothe him. Those are Jesus' words. Can we really overcome evil with good or was he being unrealistic? The question is: how seriously do we take the scriptures?"

Dr Campolo is among the special guests due to speak at Christian Resources Exhibition International taking place at Sandown Park, Esher, in Surrey, from 14 to 17 May. He will appear as the event's key speaker on 16 May.

North Korea was sanctioned by the UN last month for carrying out a third nuclear test. Since then, it has formally declared war on South Korea and threatened nuclear strikes on the US.

Authorities in North Korean capital Pyongyang have advised foreign diplomats to leave, saying they cannot guarantee their safety in the event of conflict.

Campolo continued: "Our security is more dependent on the friends we make than the armies we deploy.

"Kim Jong-un has asked for face-to-face talks with President Obama but for political and diplomatic reasons he has not accepted this invitation.

"However, Jesus' words make it clear: before you go to war, do your best to meet your enemy and see if peace can be maintained."

Despite the nuclear threats, he called upon the US to take the lead in reducing its nuclear weapons arsenal.

"If we want our enemies to dismantle nuclear weapons we should show them we're serious - by dismantling our own. I contend we cannot expect others to do what we are not willing to do ourselves," he said.

"It's dangerous to take Jesus seriously but those who are not willing to live dangerously in his name ought not to call themselves his disciples."