Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Pope Francis, the supreme leader of the Roman Catholic Church, ahead of delegation-level talks in Vatican City today. According to sources, Prime Minister Modi has invited Pope Francis to visit India.
If Pope Francis accepts the invitation, this will be his first visit to India. Earlier, Pope John Paul II had visited India in 1999 during the prime ministership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Sources said that only a 20-minute meeting was scheduled between Prime Minister Modi and Pope Francis at the Vatican, but the talks lasted for about an hour. The prime minister and the pope discussed measures like eradicating poverty and preventing climate change.
Prime Minister Modi shared photos of his meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican, saying, “Had a very warm meeting with Pope Francis. I had the opportunity to discuss a wide range of issues with him and also invited him to visit India.”
Shringla said the Vatican had not set any agenda for the talks. The Ministry of External Affairs holds that there is a tradition that when discussions with the pope are held, there is no agenda “and we respect that”. “I am sure that during this time we will be involved in discussions on the global scenario in general and those issues which are important to us,” the foreign secretary said.
The foreign secretary said the political leader of India and the head of Catholics were expected to cover Covid-19 among other things and evolve a method to work together on these issues. “These are some of the topics that I believe will be discussed in general,” Shringla said.
Prime Minister Modi is on a visit to Rome, Italy and the Vatican City from 29 to 31 October at the invitation of Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
After reaching Italy on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was honoured with a guard of honour. The prime minister has met his Italian counterpart Draghi too.