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Putin meets the Pope in Rome

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Putin meets the Pope in Rome


Pope Francis has welcomed Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Vatican for their first- ever meeting.

Talks between the two leaders focused on Syria with the Pope stressing the need to end the violence and bring assistance to the civilian population.

They also exchanged gifts. In return for a ceramic mosaic of the Vatican gardens, Putin presented Francis with an image of the icon of the Madonna of Vladimir.

On the whole the meeting was described as cordial. Relations between the Catholic Church and Russia have long been uneasy because of accusations that the Vatican has tried to poach believers from the Orthodox Church, a charge it denies.

Putin, who is being accompanied by ministers and business leaders, is due to meet Italian Premier Enrico Leta later on Tuesday.

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