Pope Francis invited by PM Modi to India during a 'very warm meeting'
the meeting was only supposed to last 20 minutes but ended up lasting an hour, during which a wide range of topics were covered
On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with Pope Francis in a "very friendly meeting" and urged him to visit India. According to those familiar with the meeting's contents, the discussion was only supposed to last 20 minutes but ended up lasting an hour, during which they addressed a wide range of topics, including climate change and poverty.
"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. @Pontifex," tweeted PM Modi.
The latest papal visit to India was by Pope John Paul II in 1999, when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister. During Prime Minister Modi's stay in office, another Papal visit to India has been prolonged. He is also the first Indian prime leader to meet Francis since the latter assumed the role of Pope in 2013.
PM Modi made a visit to Pope Francis ahead of Italy's hosting of the G20 Summit. External affairs minister S Jaishankar and national security adviser Ajit Doval joined the prime minister.
He also met Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican City State's Secretary of State.
Harsh Vardhan Shringla, India's foreign secretary, said on Friday that the Vatican had not set an agenda for the meeting since it is customary not to have one when addressing matters with the Pope, and that India will respect that.
"I'm sure the issues would cover a range of areas of interest in terms of the general global perspectives and issues that are important to all of us, Covid-19, health issues, how we can work together, how we can work together to maintain peace and tranquillity and this is something that, I think would be the general trend in the discussions," said Shringla during a special briefing on PM Modi's visit to Italy.