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    No meeting with pope until disputes resolved - Russian patriarch

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    The head of the Russian Orthodox Church said on Thursday that a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI was possible, but not before issues hampering relations between the Churches are overcome.

    MOSCOW, September 13 (RIA Novosti) - The head of the Russian Orthodox Church said on Thursday that a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI was possible, but not before issues hampering relations between the Churches are overcome.

    "At a meeting with the pope that could take place - I do not rule it out - we should aim not only to show ourselves in front of the cameras. It should produce specific steps to improve relations," Patriarch Alexy II told a discussion forum at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow.

    The Russian patriarch has refused all previous invitations from Pope Benedict and his predecessor, John Paul II, accusing the Vatican of trying to win new converts in post-Soviet countries regarded by the Russian Church as historically Orthodox.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin met with the pope during a visit to the Vatican in March this year, and pledged help in efforts to reconcile the two Churches.

    The Eastern, Orthodox, and Western, and Roman, churches split in 1054 AD.

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