Russian President talks with Pope

Russian President Vladimir Putin has met Pope John Paul II at the Vatican. As Rosbalt was informed by the president's press office, the head of the Catholic Church greeted Mr Putin in Russian. They discussed ways of cooperating in international affairs and they reached a consensus on the main problems today including the situation in Iraq.

Mr Putin told the pope that the 'Russian government has done everything possible to provide greater integration between the different faiths in Russia.' The president also said he hoped for a better dialogue between the faiths. In his turn Pope John Paul II thanked Mr Putin for bringing the Russian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church closer together and helping to bring world peace.

Usually the pope spends no more than 15 minutes with his guests but the meeting with the Russian president lasted over 40 minutes. The pope has also not given such greetings for a long time and, according to the president's press office, the fact that he did this in Russian shows that the Catholic Church is seeking to establish closer ties with Russia.

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