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Pope, French president discuss immigration, human rights

Conflict in Middle East, Africa on leaders' agenda at Vatican

24 January, 14:08
Pope, French president discuss immigration, human rights (ANSA) - Vatican City, January 24 - A wide range of issues, from poverty and development to bioethics, respect for religious communities, and immigration were discussed Friday when Pope Francis met with French President Francois Hollande, the Vatican said.

Discussions were described as "cordial" between the leaders, who met for 35 minutes with the help of an interpreter, the Vatican said in a statement.

In their conversation, the pair discussed relations between the Holy See and France "and reaffirmed their mutual commitment to maintain a regular dialogue...and to work constructively on issues of common interest".

That includes "defence and promotion of the dignity of the human person" as well as international concerns including conflicts in the Middle East and parts of Africa. Earlier, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio - who took the name Francis, Francois in French, when he was elected pope last year - joked that he and Hollande now shared a name.

"This is your patron too," the pope said when Hollande gave him a book about St Francis of Assisi.

The pope gave Hollande some pontifical medallions. The exchange of gifts and warm handshakes came after 35 minutes of talks with the help of an interpreter.