Pope Benedict XVI and Saudi King Abdullah have met at the Vatican - the first such meeting between a Saudi monarch and the leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

A Vatican statement says the 30-minute meeting Tuesday included discussion of restrictions on Christian worship in Saudi Arabia, the need for cooperation among Christians, Muslims and Jews, and prospects for a just peace in the Middle East.

The statement said the pontiff noted the positive presence and work of Christians in Saudi Arabia. Catholic officials often have protested the Saudi ban on public worship by Christians and on opening churches in the country.

The statement said the Saudi monarch requested the audience.

The pope sparked anger among Muslims last year when in a speech he linked Islam to violence. He later said he was misunderstood and expressed regret for offending Muslims.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AP and AFP.