Pope Benedict will meet with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah next Tuesday for the first time in history, Reuters reports. The talks are expected to center on the freedom of Christians in the Middle Eastern country and dialogue between Muslims and Christians.
Currently there are no formal diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Saudi Arabia and according to a strict interpretation of Islam it is illegal for the monarchy to establish diplomatic relations with a Christian entity.
This interpretation would prohibit a Vatican embassy in Saudi Arabia on the grounds it would be equivalent to raising the cross inside the site of Islam's holiest places.
The Vatican has repeatedly stressed that Christians and non-Christians should receive equal treatment as Muslims and be allowed to practice their faith in public.