.- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has requested an audience with Pope Benedict XVI during his upcoming visit to Rome on June 3 to 5.
Ahmadinejad has been granted visa to travel to Italy by Silvio Berlusconi’s government—a close U.S. ally— but only to attend the summit of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization summit, to be held in Rome from June 3 to 5.
According to the Italian news Agency ANSA, the Iranian embassy in Rome has confirmed Ahmadinejad's request, but there has not been an official response from the Vatican.
Italy's Secretary of State, Franco Frattini, said that the Iranian President, who is at odds with the U.S. and the European Union for its controversial nuclear program and its suspected role in supporting anti-Western militias in Iraq, will also be granted authorization to visit the Vatican, "if he needs to."
Frattini, nevertheless, dismissed any chance of direct contacts between Ahmadinejad and Italian authorities.