Vatican City (Fides Service) - In the evening of 13 March the Holy See Press office issued the following statement in Italian with regard to the Papal Audience with the President of the Russian Federation. “At 6pm today 13 March 2007, Pope Benedict XVI received in audience His Excellency Mr Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation. At the same time a meeting took place between Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State for His Holiness and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti Secretary for Relations with States, and the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Mr. Sergei Lavrov accompanied by other members of the presidential entourage.
The talks held in a highly positive atmosphere highlighted the cordial relations existing between the Holy See and the Russian Federation as well as a reciprocal desire to develop these relations also by means of specific initiatives of cultural character. In this framework various bilateral themes of common interested were examined, including relations between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church and important international issues, especially regarding the Middle East. The interlocutors also discussed the problems of extremism and intolerance which pose serious threats to civil coexistence among countries and the need to preserve peace and to foster negotiated peaceful solutions to conflicts. (S.L.) (Agenzia Fides 14/3/2007; Righe 18, Parole 226)