05/06/2010, 00.00
VATICAN-KUWAIT
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Pope meets with the emir of Kuwait on interreligious dialogue and peace in the Middle East

Cordial climate. Focus on the contribution of the Christian minority, which is about 12 percent of the population. They are almost all foreigners, but there is a small group of Christians from the country.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Inter-religious Dialogue and the Middle East peace process was the focus of the first ever encounter between Benedict XVI and The Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, who also saw the Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone.

"During the cordial talks - says a Vatican press release - several issues of common interest have been reviewed, with particular reference to the promotion of peace in the Middle East and for interreligious dialogue. Later, the positive contribution that the significant Christian minority makes to Kuwaiti society was noted and focus was placed on the particular needs of that minority. "

"I am very happy to be here," said the emir on his arrival, accompanied by a retinue of men only. After the private meeting in the library there was an exchange of gifts: two precious carpets and a manuscript dating from about 200 years ago were offered to Benedict XVI, who presented him with the medal of his pontificate and a depiction of St. Peter’s.

In Kuwait there is a significant Christian minority, which represents about 12% of the approximately three million inhabitants, mostly immigrants, Kuwaitis being less than one million. Even though Christians are mostly foreigners, there are also Kuwaiti Christians, but they are rarely referred to. Proselytizing to Muslims is prohibited by law.

There are about 160 thousand Catholics in the capital and there is also a cathedral (see photo) dedicated to the Holy Family.

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