Russian President Vladimir Putin and Pope Francis have agreed on the need for the end of violence and a diplomatic solution in Syria.
Putin held what the Vatican calls cordial discussions with the pope Monday in the Vatican.
Their talks focused on Syria, where Francis says peace talks should involve the various religious and ethnic groups and their role in Syrian society.
Putin also thanked Francis for the letter he sent directly to the Russian president for September’s G20 meeting in St. Petersburg. In it, Francis appealed for a dignified way of life for all humans, saying the world economy cannot develop without such justice.
Pope Francis and Putin also exchanged gifts. Putin brought personal greetings from the head of the Russian Orthodox church, but did not invite Francis to visit Moscow.
Ties between the Russian Orthodox and Catholic churches have been strained for centuries over long-simmering charges that the Vatican has tried to recruit followers from the Russian church – a charge it has always denied.