Vatican Wants Closer Relations
The Associated Press

The Pope presents Putin with a golden gift.

VATICAN CITY The Vatican signaled Tuesday that it is prepared to play an active role in promoting closer ties between Russia and Western Europe, expressing full satisfaction with the visit by President Vladimir Putin.

At the same time, it dismissed suggestions that the meeting Monday represented a setback to Pope John Paul IIs dream of visiting Moscow.

Both Russian and Vatican officials insisted that a visit was not on the agenda of Mondays talks, while both sides said that negotiations were under way between the Vatican and the Orthodox church to clear obstacles blocking such a trip.

"To try to read yesterdays audience between Putin and the holy father in terms of a possible trip is reductive and improper, said the popes spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls.


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