Pope Francis to meet with Putin during UN visit

2015-09-10 14:36
Pope Francis shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the end of a private audience at the Vatican. (Gregorio Borgia, AP)

Pope Francis shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the end of a private audience at the Vatican. (Gregorio Borgia, AP)

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New York - Pope Francis will deliver a speech in his native Spanish to world leaders and meet privately with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a whirlwind visit to the United Nations, the Holy See said on Wednesday.

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Vatican's apostolic nuncio and UN ambassador, said the pope's address to the 193-member General Assembly on 25 September will likely focus on the need for peace and economic development in a conflict-torn world facing the biggest refugee crisis since World War II.

The plight of the hundreds of thousands of migrants seeking safety and a new life in Europe will also be raised, he said.

He said the pope's 2 1/2-hour visit to the UN will be the fifth by a pope and the shortest because of time constraints.

Auza said the pope is expected to express appreciation in his General Assembly speech for the UN role in trying to minimise conflict and alleviate suffering - but he said the world body has also seen "lots of failures."

"There is no greater failure of the UN than to be incapable, unable to prevent what is going on in the Middle East now and North Africa," the archbishop said.

Immediately after he leaves UN headquarters, Francis will head to the site where the World Trade Center stood before the September 11 2001 attacks, a visit Auza said the pope insisted upon.

During his UN visit, Francis will have a one-on-one meeting with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and then a larger meeting with UN and Vatican officials, Auza said.

He will then address UN staff members and hold private meetings with the outgoing and incoming assembly presidents and Putin, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council in September. Putin has met Francis at least twice previously.

Auza said the pope will be staying at his residence on New York's fashionable upper East Side which was given to the Holy See in the 1970s as the residence for its UN representative by the family of New York mayor Hugh Grant who built it and died there in 1910.

Read more on:    un  |  9/11 attacks  |  pope francis  |  vladimir putin  |  us  |  russia

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