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Pope Francis visits Benedict XVI before his upcoming birthday

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Pope to Egypt's President: Dialogue is key to stop violence in the Middle East

2014-11-24

With camera flashes clicking away, Pope Francis welcomed Egypt's president to the Vatican. The visit is significant for several reasons. In addition to the country's political transition, it's the first time in eight years, that an Egyptian leader, in that political rank, visits the Vatican. 

President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, took office six months ago, back in June 2014. In fact, he led the movement that ousted former president Mohamed Morsi from power. 

In their meeting, both leaders talked about religious freedom. This very topic sparked tension back in 2011, between Egypt and the Holy See, when Benedict XVI said the government wasn't doing enough to protect the Christian minority in the country. 

Egypt has a population of roughly 80 million people, 90 percent is Muslim. About 6 to 9 percent is Christian. 

Both leaders also addressed the role Egypt can play in helping off set the instability and violence in the Middle East and North Africa, especially through dialogue. 

Afterwards, the president introduced his team to the Pope. One made it a point to greet him in Spanish. 

"Hello. It's a pleasure to meet you.” 

As a gift, the president gave the Pope a metal box. The Pope in turn, gave the president an engraved medallion. 

Even though the relationship between both states has been shaky in the last few years, it's said that Egypt's president wants to reinforce its ties with the Holy See. 


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