.- The Vatican released a short statement on Wednesday, following Tuesday afternoon’s meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Pope Benedict XVI. The Vatican communiqué said that the discussions between the two heads of state “provided an opportunity to emphasize the cordial relations that exist between the Holy See and the Russian Federation.”
"The discussions, which took place in a positive atmosphere, provided an opportunity to emphasize the cordial relations that exist between the Holy See and the Russian Federation and the shared desire to develop them further, also through specific cultural initiatives,” the Vatican release said.
The two leaders discussed several issues “of mutual interest,” including, “relations between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, and current international questions…especially those regarding the Middle East.”
According to the Vatican, Pope Benedict and President Putin also discussed, “the problems of extremism and intolerance, which constitute grave threats to the civilized coexistence of nations, highlighting the need to preserve peace and to favor negotiated and peaceful solutions to conflicts.”
At the same time, the Holy Father and president were meeting, Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States, met with Sergei Lavrov, minister for foreign affairs of the Russian Federation, and other members of the delegation accompanying the president.
The 25-minute meeting yesterday started at about at 6 p.m. and was held in German, the native tongue of the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Putin, a former spy in communist East Germany, is also fluent in the language.