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Russian Foreign Minister: Relations with Vatican Going Well

Sergey Lavrov
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday relations between his country and the Vatican are going well and dialogue on religious issues is evolving. His comments came after meetings with Vatican officials and his Italian counterpart in Rome.

Italian foreign minister Gianfranco Fini held talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Rome. Mr. Fini said they discussed bilateral relations and major international issues including Iraq, the Middle East, Kosovo, Central Asia and the reform of the U.N. Security Council.

Mr. Fini said there was agreement of views on the issues discussed.

The Italian foreign minister said the lengthy meeting with his friend and colleague, the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, confirmed the excellent qualitative and quantitative level of bilateral relations.

The two leaders discussed relations between the European Union (EU) and Russia. Mr. Lavrov said the recent referendums in France and the Netherlands, which rejected the new European constitution, would not weaken the union or negatively affect Russia's partnership with the EU.

The Russian foreign minister, who met with journalists after the meeting with Mr. Fini, also spoke of his meeting in the Vatican earlier Tuesday. He said he invited his counterpart, Monsignor Giovanni Lajolo, to visit Russia in the autumn.

Mr. Lavrov said relations between Moscow and the Vatican are evolving in a positive manner. He said dialogue and cooperation between the two countries is developing. He added that dialogue between faiths is also developing.

We are both interested, the Russian foreign minister said, in collaborating to heal the wounds of fundamentalism and terrorism that afflict us.

Pope Benedict XVI, last month, pledged to make healing strained ties with the Orthodox Church a "fundamental" commitment of his papacy. Asked why he did not invite the Pope to Moscow, Mr. Lavrov said that as foreign minister he invited his Vatican counterpart because that is fitting with his job description.