On Thursday morning, the Holy Father received the president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy. This marked the first meeting between Pope Benedict and the French head of state whose discussion topics included the relationship between France and the Vatican and also the future of Europe.
"The cordial discussions provided an opportunity to examine a number of questions of mutual interest concerning the current situation of France. Mention was made of the good relations that exist between the Catholic Church and the French Republic, and of the role of religions, especially the Catholic Church, in the world.”
Their conversation shifted to the “international situation with reference to the future of Europe, the conflicts in the Middle East, the social and political problems of certain African countries, and the drama of hostages.
"At the end of the conversation, best wishes were exchanged for the forthcoming feasts of Christmas and the New Year."
In separate audiences today, the Pontiff also received Cardinal Luigi Poggi, archivist and librarian emeritus of Holy Roman Church; Darko Tanaskovic, ambassador of Serbia; and Mohammad Javad Faridzadeh, ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran.