Saudi king to hold landmark meeting with pope

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia arrived Monday in Rome for an audience with Pope Benedict XVI, the first between a Saudi monarch and a leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

Saudi king to hold landmark meeting with pope
Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal came to Rome in September to pave the way for the visit, the third leg of a European tour that has taken the 84-year-old monarch to London and Geneva.

The meeting with the pope is set for 12:30 pm (1130 GMT) on Tuesday.

Vatican and Saudi Arabia do not have diplomatic ties, but King Abdullah met Benedict's predecessor John Paul II in 1999 when he was crown prince to his half brother King Fahd.

The Vatican said the talks in September between al-Faisal and the pope centred on "defence of religious and moral values, the Middle East conflict, the political and religious situation in Saudi Arabia (and) the importance of inter-cultural and inter-faith dialogue."

A Vatican source said the same topics would be on the agenda between the king and the pope when they meet Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia held an Arab summit in Riyadh in March to relaunch a five-year-old Saudi peace initiative for the Middle East.

Abdullah's visit comes as relations between the Vatican and the Muslim world have eased since the crisis provoked in September 2006 when Benedict appeared to link Islam with violence in a speech at Regensburg University, Germany.

Abdullah's lavish three-day state visit to Britain is the first by a Saudi monarch in 20 years.

He will travel next to Germany and Turkey.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Kasım 2007, 12:24