Russian Premier Does Not Rule Out Pope John Paul Ii's Arrival in Russia

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov does not rule out the possibility of Pope John Paul II's stop in Russia.

"I expect John Paul II come to Russia soon," the premier said in Rybinsk (Central Russia) on Tuesday, answering to journalists' questions if Pope John Paul II could stop in Russia on his way to Mongolia and if the Pontiff could meet with Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexis II.

However, the issue of the Holy Pontiff's visit to Russia will not be discussed along government channels, Mikhail Kasyanov added.

Visiting Italy last week, the Russian Prime Minister said that the Russian Orthodox Church and Vatican would overcome the existing difficulties.

"I think all efforts taken to resolve disagreements between the churches /Catholic and Orthodox/ should be crowned with success," Mikhail Kasyanov said.

"The Russian and Italian governments are trying to remove obstacles preventing the two churches from cooperation," Kasyanov noted.

According to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian government is taking all efforts to boost dialogue between the two churches. Berlusconi did not rule out the possibility of the Pontiff's visit to Russia.

The Pope is scheduled to visit Mongolia in August.

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