Russia's Putin meets Pope Benedict XVI

14th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

14 March 2007, Vatican City (dpa) - Pope Benedict XVI and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed ways to improve relations between the Roman Catholic and the Russian Orthodox churches during talks at the Vatican on Tuesday. In a statement, the Vatican said Benedict's first official meeting with Putin had also allowed the two leaders to exchange their views on a variety of issues, including latest developments on the international front, the situation in the Middle East and the problems posed by extremi

14 March 2007

Vatican City (dpa) - Pope Benedict XVI and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed ways to improve relations between the Roman Catholic and the Russian Orthodox churches during talks at the Vatican on Tuesday.

In a statement, the Vatican said Benedict's first official meeting with Putin had also allowed the two leaders to exchange their views on a variety of issues, including latest developments on the international front, the situation in the Middle East and the problems posed by extremism and intolerance.

The 25-minute-long meeting was described as "cordial" and saw the two leaders exchange gifts before retiring for private talks believed to have taken place in German, a language Putin learnt while serving as a KGB agent in Dresden during the 1980s.

Though relations between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church are said to have improved since Joseph Ratzinger's election as pope two years ago, Putin did not invite Benedict to Moscow, as previous Russian leaders had done with his predecessor John Paul II.

The two churches split more than 1,000 years ago and remain divided on a variety of issues amid accusations of proselytism (conversion) by the Vatican of Russians.

A papal visit to Russia would have to be approved by Russian Patriarch Alexius II, Russian officials note. But a meeting between Benedict and Alexius on neutral grounds has not been ruled out, Sky Italia television reported.

Putin also met Italian President Giorgio Napolitano shortly after his arrival in Rome and then held dinner with Prime Minister Romano Prodi ahead of a bilateral summit taking place in the southern Italian city of Bari on Wednesday.

Energy deals and human rights issues were expected to be on the Bari agenda.

DPA

Subject: German news

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