.- This morning, Pope Benedict XVI held his first official meeting with Italian President Carlo Azeglion Ciampi at the Vatican. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, Holy See Press Director, announced in a statement this morning that, in addition to President Ciampi and his wife, Franca, the Holy Father also received members of the official presidential delegation and Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini.
"It was a very cordial meeting which allowed for an exchange of ideas on the bilateral relations between Italy and the Holy See,â the statement read.
Navarro-Valls noted that, "In the course of the meeting, several themes regarding the European situation were discussed,â and added that, "At the end of the visit to the Holy Father, President Ciampi was received by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State."
The statement also announced that, "The Holy Father Benedict XVI, readily accepting the courteous invitation of President Ciampi, will make an official visit to the Quirinale (Italian presidential palace) on Friday June 24, 2005."