26 November 2013, 10:16
Russian president's meeting with Pope Francis lasted longer than planned
*** He presents Pope Francis with Blessed Virgin Mary of Vladimir icon
The Vatican, November 26, Interfax - Russian President Vladimir Putin's face-to-face meeting with Pope Francis in the Vatican "continued twice as long as had been planned previously," the Russian leader's press secretary Dmitry Peskov said.
A meeting between Putin and Vatican Secretary of State Archbishop Pietro Parolin continued far longer that had been planned as well, he said.
"The meeting went very well," Peskov told reporters, after being asked whether the Russian delegation was pleased with the visit to the Vatican.
Putin presented Pope with a Blessed Virgin Mary of Vladimir icon. The pontiff, for his part, presented Putin with a majolica plate depicting the Vatican Gardens. At the end of the meeting, Pope Francis asked the Russian president to convey his good wishes to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.
For her part, cultural attache of the Embassy of the Vatican to Russia Giovanna Parravicini told Interfax-Religion that Putin's meeting with the pontiff would open up new opportunities for relations between the two states.
The more frequently such meetings at the level of states and the level of Churches take place, the better, especially when problems like peace in Syria and the persecution of the Christian minority in this country are discussed, she said.
Parravicini said she believed that the Syrian problem had been addressed by Putin and Pope Francis at their meeting. She also said that the sides' exchange of opinions on this and other international topics would give a fresh impetus to the two states' cooperation and would offer extensive opportunities to resolve problems that face the world today.