19 December 2016, 10:03
Putin greets Pope by phone on his 80th birthday
Moscow, December 19, Interfax - Russian President Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with Pope Francis on Saturday, the Kremlin press service said.
"Vladimir Putin warmly greeted the Pontiff on his 80th birthday, marking his personal contribution to strengthening ties between Russia and Vatican, which have recently been raised to a qualitatively new level," the Kremlin said in a communication received by Interfax.
Putin and Pope Frances "exchanged views on the problems of protection of Christians in areas of regional conflicts, highlighting the importance of a constructive interreligious dialogue for preservation of moral foundations in world affairs", it said.
A special focus was also made on the Russia-Vatican cultural and humanitarian cooperation, the Kremlin said.
Earlier in the day, Putin sent a greeting message in a telegram to Pope Francis.
"You fruitful activities in promoting high spiritual and moral values, expanding the inter-faith and inter-civilizational dialogue have won you sincere respect from millions of people around the world," Putin said in his telegram to Pope Francis, available on the Kremlin website.
Putin mentioned the pontiff's efforts to make a breakthrough in communication with the Russian Orthodox Church and improve relations between the Vatican and Russia.
"It is thanks to your personal efforts, your wisdom and sagacity that a historic breakthrough occurred in Orthodox-Catholic communication, as well as a considerable enhancement of the Russia-Vatican relations," he said.
"I have fond memories of our conversations in the Vatican in 2013 and 2015," Putin said.
"I hope that we will be able to meet again in the near future to have a thorough discussion of the current challenges facing the modern world," he said.
Putin wished the pontiff "good health, well-being and new successes" in his "noble and responsible mission."