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King Abdullah Holds Historic Meeting with Pope Benedict - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah is greeted by Pope Benedict XVI on his arrival for their meeting at the Vatican (R)

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah is greeted by Pope Benedict XVI on his arrival for their meeting at the Vatican (R)

Rome, Asharq Al-Awsat- Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz held a historic meeting with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican yesterday. It is the first time a Saudi King has met with a Pope.

During the meeting, the King and the Pope discussed the importance of dialogue among religions and cultures to promote peace and tolerance.

They also discussed the situation in the Middle East and emphasized the need to find a just solution to the conflicts in the region, especially the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, according to a statement released by the Vatican.

At the end of the meeting, King Abdullah presented Pope Benedict with a traditional Middle Eastern gift — a golden sword studded with jewels — as well as a gold and silver statue of a palm tree and man riding a camel, while the Pope presented the King with a 16th century print and a gold medal of his pontificate.

King Abdullah has visited the Vatican twice before, as crown prince and deputy prime minister, when he met with the late Pope John Paul II.

King Abdullah is currently on an official visit to Italy, the second leg of a tour that has already taken him to Britain. He will continue his tour with visit Germany and Turkey before returning to the Kingdom.

King Abdullah is expected to Arrive in Germany today to hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel on developments in the Middle East.

Merkel is to receive King Abdullah with military honors at the chancellery and then hold talks with him that her spokesman, Ulrich Wilhelm, has said are to focus on developments in the Middle East. No news conference is planned.

Merkel met King Abdullah in Riyadh during a tour of the region in February.

The king is also set to meet German President Horst Koehler this Evening.

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah poses with Pope Benedict XVI during their meeting at the Vatican (R)

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah poses with Pope Benedict XVI during their meeting at the Vatican (R)

Italy's PM Prodi and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah shake hands during a meeting in Rome (R)

Italy’s PM Prodi and Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah shake hands during a meeting in Rome (R)