Pope and Putin: an agenda of peace

Pope Francis has urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to work towards a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Ukraine. During the course of an hour-long meeting in the Vatican with the president on Wednesday, the pontiff said a “sincere and great effort to achieve peace” in the region was required.

President Putin’s arrival in the Vatican was an hour late but it included an exchange of gifts. Pope Francis gave the Russian leader a medallion with an image of an “angel of peace” - a similar gift to the presentation he made to the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.

A climate of dialogue

"The Holy Father affirmed that it is necessary to make a sincere and great effort to forge peace,” a statement from the Vatican said after their meeting, adding that Pope Francis and President Putin had agreed on the need to “restore a climate of dialogue”. The parties believed the way forward was the implementation of a peace plan negotiated in Minsk.

Pope Francis expressed his concerns over the “grave humanitarian crisis” in the region and stressed to Mr Putin the need for victims of the conflict to be given access to aid. They also also discussed the crisis in the Middle East and the persecution of Christians.

Photo: President Putin is greeted by Pope Francis. Source: Vatican