25 November 2013, 23:07

Putin, Pope Francis back negotiated solution to Syria conflict

Putin, Pope Francis back negotiated solution to Syria conflict

The Vatican said Russian President Vladimir Putin and Pope Francis on Monday discussed the need for talks to resolve the Syria conflict, as the Kremlin boss met the leader of the world's Catholics for the first time.

The two discussed "the urgency of favouring concrete initiatives to a peaceful solution to the conflict that will favour the path of negotiations," the Vatican said in a statement after the 35-minute audience.

Putin’s spokesman said the meeting appears to go very well and that the encounter lasted twice as long as had been planned.

Putin and the pontiff exchanged gifts, and the pope asked the Russian leader to send his regards to Patriarch Kirill, who heads the Russian Orthodox Church.

Relations between the two churches have been strained over a few issues that have prevented the churches’ leaders from meeting. The Moscow Patriarchate has in particular accused the Vatican of trying to lead believers away from the Russian Church – an accusation the Roman Catholics have denied.

Putin and Italian President Giorgio Napolitano were also due to hold talks Monday.

Voice of Russia, AFP, RIA

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