Pope Francis met with the Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday as relations thaw between Russia and Ukraine, and it came a day ahead of a visit by Ukrainian Catholic leaders to the Vatican in which they will be updating the Pope on the crisis in their country.
The two discussed the issue of protecting the Christians of the Middle East as well as providing humanitarian assistance for Syria, the Russian President said during a press conference in Rome following talks with the Italian PM.
"We discussed the issues of protecting the Christian population of the Middle East and providing humanitarian assistance in Syria. It is important that the positions of Russia and the Vatican coincide in the issues concerning traditional values, promoting inter-religious and inter-civilizational dialogue," Putin said during the press conference, as reported by TASS news agency.
"This was a very kind discussion in which we tackled some international issues and growing bilateral relations between Russia and the Vatican, including the spiritual aspect of this cooperation and humanitarian ties,” he added.
This marks the third meeting in total between the two leaders as previous meetings took place in 2013 and 2015.