Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The value of intercultural and interreligious dialogue was reaffirmed today by Pope Francis and the President of the Republic of Azerbaigijan, Ilham Aliyev (pictured).
" During the cordial discussions - reads a Vatican statement - satisfaction was expressed for the development of bilateral relations. In particular, attention was paid to themes regarding the life of the Catholic Community in the country and to a number of initiatives in the culture field, revealing the value in the contemporary world of intercultural and interreligious dialogue to promote peace. Reference was then made to the current regional and international situation, emphasizing the importance of negotiation in conflict resolution, and education for promoting the conditions for peaceful coexistence between populations and different religious groups".
The president subsequently met Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, who was accompanied by the under-secretary for Relations with States, Msgr. Antoine Camilleri.
Azerbaigijan, the largest Caucasian state, is a Shiite Muslim-majority country, but is also home to Orthodox and Jewish communities. There are only a few hundred Catholics, and in 2007 the first Catholic Church was inaugurated, dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, in the capital Baku