11/25/2013, 00.00
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Middle East and persecution of Christians focus of Pope’s meeting with Putin

The Vatican speaks of "cordial discussions" and "good bilateral relations". The Russian president brings the greetings of Patriarch Kirill to Francis , but not an invitation to go to Moscow . Father Lombardi : "No one expected there to be one".

Vatican City ( AsiaNews) - Middle East, "the plight of Christians in some regions of the world" and the life of Catholics in Russia were the topics of the "cordial discussions" held in the Vatican between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Pope Francis. Putin was later also received by Secretary of State , Msgr. Pietro Parolin, who was accompanied by the Secretary for Relations with States, Msgr. Dominique Mamberti .

A statement issued by the Vatican later this evening reports that "satisfaction was expressed for the good existing bilateral relations, and the Parties focused on various questions of common interest, especially in relation to the life of the Catholic community in Russia, revealing the fundamental contribution of Christianity in society".

" In this context, mention was made of the critical situation faced by Christians in some regions of the world, as well as the defence of and promotion of values regarding the dignity of the person, and the protection of human life and the family".

"Furthermore, special attention was paid to the pursuit of peace in the Middle East and the grave situation in Syria, with reference to which President Putin expressed thanks for the letter addressed to him by the Holy Father on the occasion of the G20 meeting in St. Petersburg. Emphasis was placed on the urgency of the need to bring an end to the violence and to ensure necessary humanitarian assistence for the population, as well as to promote concrete initiatives for a peaceful solution to the conflict, favouring negotiation and involving the various ethnic and religious groups, recognising their essential role in society".

Vatican Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, confirmed that Putin brought the greetings of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow to the Pope - with whom he had a private interview 35 minutes. But not an invitation for a visit to Russia , which , however , "no one expected".

In fact , on November 12 last, after an audience with Pope Francis , Metropolitan Hilarion , " Foreign Minister " of the Patriarchate , said that "at this time we are not even talking about a visit to Russia by the Pope, but the possibility a meeting between the Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia in a neutral country . "

Today's visit was Putin's fourth to the Vatican , after two audiences with John Paul II in 2000 and 2003, and one with Pope Benedict XVI in 2007.



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