Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The "steps taken to favour socio-economic development, and reconciliation among the communities hit by the long internal conflict which has affected" Sri Lanka, and the hope that "a global joint solution may soon be found corresponding to the legitimate expectations of all the parties involved" dominated this morning's meeting between Benedict XVI and President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The Sri Lankan president was accompanied by his wife, a Catholic, and a delegation of eight men and two women, including the minister and deputy minister of foreign affairs, the governor of the central bank and a former justice minister.
Mr Rajapaksa gave the pope a silver vase as well as one in terracotta containing Sri Lankan spices. The pope gave the president a glazed piece of pottery and the copy of a 17th century etching showing St Peter's Square.
A press release by the Vatican Information Office described as cordial the discussions Rajapaksa had with Benedict XVI and Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.
During the tête-à-têtes, emphasis was given to "how the Catholic Church-which makes an important contribution to the life of the country with her religious witness and educational, healthcare and social assistance activities-will continue to commit herself to the common good, reciprocal understanding and the integral development of all citizens."