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Egypt officially restores full ties with the Vatican, with arrival of new ambassador

2014-02-07

It was a homecoming for sorts for Egypt's new ambassador to the Holy See, and it left her speechless.

"The honor is mine. I don't know what to say. There are many feelings in my heart.”

Wafaa Bassim presented her credentials to Pope Francis on Thursday. She previously worked for Egypt's mission to Italy. But this time around she has a bigger responsibility. Bassim's arrival signals a renewal of relations, after Egypt withdrew its ambassador back in 2011.

WAFAA BASSIM
Egyptian Ambassador to the Holy See
"There is a general feeling of satisfaction and of optimism for the future since now there is a new ambassador in the Vatican, after almost two years of a non presence here. But that was due to different things and the main element was the great changes that Egypt was watching.”

Bassim's appointment comes at a fragile time, following major unrest in Egypt. Christians in the country suffered greatly, as did many other Egyptians.

The Egyptian ambassador said one of her main goals will be to push for dialogue and cooperation with the Vatican, to look out after all Egyptians. But also to clear up any stereotypes and misunderstandings.

WAFAA BASSIM
Egyptian Ambassador to the Holy See
"It's our role to explain, to clarify, to answer questions, to provide reliable information, credible information and accurate information about what's happening in Egypt; about the new constitution, how it is treating the different factions of the society.”

After presenting her credentials to Pope Francis, Bassim said the two spoke about the Pope's commitment to issues of mutual interest, especially economic equality and the protection of minorities.

The ambassador introduced her family and embassy staff. She also gave Pope Francis an engraved, gold Coptic cross as a gift.

I am very happy.
I am also happy to meet you.


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