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Russian president congratulates Pope on 80th birthday

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has congratulated Pope Benedict XVI, who turned 80 today, and presented him with a triptych icon, "A Millennium of Russia's Baptism," the Kremlin press service said Monday.
MOSCOW, April 16 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has congratulated Pope Benedict XVI, who turned 80 today, and presented him with a triptych icon, "A Millennium of Russia's Baptism," the Kremlin press service said Monday.

In a telephone conversation, Putin also congratulated the Pontiff on his second year in the papacy, coming Thursday.

"Your authority and selfless efforts serve the noble cause of strengthening spiritual and moral principles and Christian values in the life of contemporary society," Putin said in a letter of congratulations.

The presidential press service said that the two men reaffirmed their willingness to develop further contacts between Russia and the Vatican, taking into account the results of a meeting between the Pontiff and the Russian leader in the Vatican on March 13.

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI succeeded Pope John Paul II, who died April 2, 2005.

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