Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel held talks with Pope Francis on Thursday as part of a farewell visit to Italy which will also include meetings with Prime Minister Mario Draghi and his participation in a peace event at the Colosseum. Merkel and Francis, who have met several times before, spoke privately in the Papal Library of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican for about 45 minutes.
In an interview with a Spanish radio station last month, Francis called Merkel, who ruled Germany for 16 years, “one of the greatest political figures in the world”. At the end of the private part of the audience, Francis and Merkel, the daughter of a Lutheran pastor, exchanged gifts.
Francis, 84, gave Merkel copies of some of her writings and a miniature reproduction of one of the bronze doors in St. Peter’s Basilica and she gave him a three-volume collection on the gospels and a book on Michelangelo. Merkel, 67, whose conservatives lost the Sept. 26 election to center-left Social Democrats, was later due to meet Draghi, the former head of the Germany-based European Central Bank.
She was due to join the Pope and other religious leaders Thursday afternoon at the Colosseum for the conclusion of a two-day peace symposium hosted by the Sant ‘Egidio community in Rome.
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