02:30 GMT +322 July 2018
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    RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS VATICAN

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    VATICAN, July 15 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov began his routine visit to Rome with the meeting with Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano.

    They had a friendly and warm conversation, sources in the Vatican said. The Russian Foreign Minister confirmed Moscow's intention to develop political dialogue and constructive cooperation with the Holy See. The sides agreed on further bilateral consultations on international and other issues.

    They also expressed hope for the development of the dialogue between the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. Sergei Lavrov expressed satisfaction with Pope John Paul II's decision to hand over the wonderworking Kazan Icon of the Virgin Mary, which is kept in the Pontiff's residence, to the Russian Orthodox Church.

    The return of this icon to Russia is highly important from the point of view of inter-church relations, he stressed adding that it was a symbolic move in advance of the celebrations of Kazan's 1000th anniversary.

    Moreover, Sergei Lavrov and Angelo Sodano discussed international problems, in particular, the situations in the Middle East and Iraq. Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, Vatican's foreign minister, who took part in the meeting, pointed out the importance of cooperation with Russia, which is "a great power influencing the developments in many regions".

    It was Sergei Lavrov's first visit to the Vatican.

    Russia's ambassador to the Holy See Vitaly Litvin also took part in the Lavrov-Sodano talks.

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