Zelensky met Pope Francis at the Vatican, says he sought support for his peace plan


Pope Francis meets with President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky in the Studio of Paul VI Hall at the Vatican on May 13, 2023 in Vatican City, Vatican.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky held private talks with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Saturday, saying later he sought support for his peace plan from the pontiff, who has in the past helped end a war triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. had offered to help. Earlier

Zelensky put his hand on his heart and said meeting the Pope was a “great honor”. Francis, using a cane for his knee problems, came to greet the Ukrainian president before being taken to a papal studio near the Vatican’s audience hall. “Thank you for your visit,” Francis said as their 40-minute-long meeting began.

In a tweet after the People’s audience, Zelensky expressed his gratitude to Francis for “his personal attention to the tragedy of millions of Ukrainians”. He said he spoke with the pontiff about “thousands of deported (Ukrainian) children. We must do everything possible to bring them back home.”

Last month, the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Denis Schimel, asked the Pope to help bring the children back to Ukraine from Russia. But the Vatican’s written statement after Saturday’s talks made no mention of the request for help for the children.

Instead, the Vatican said the two men spoke about Ukraine’s “war-going humanitarian and political situation”.

“The Pope assures of his constant prayer, witness to his many public appeals and to his constant call to God for peace,” the Vatican said. 2022, by the military of Russia.

The Holy See’s statement said “the two agreed on the need to continue humanitarian efforts” to help the population. “The Pope underlined the urgent need for ‘humanitarian gestures’ especially towards the most vulnerable individuals, the innocent victims of conflict,” the statement said.

Zelensky also said that he asked the Pope to condemn “Russian crimes in Ukraine” because “there can be no equality between the victim and the aggressor.” And he said he asked Francis to join the Ukraine peace plan.

Zelensky said, “I also talked about our peace formula, which is the only effective algorithm for achieving a just peace.” Later, in an interview on Italian state TV, the Ukrainian leader said that the Pope “knows my position. The war is in Ukraine, so it should be Ukraine’s plan to bring peace.

Zelensky’s 10-point plan would establish a special tribunal to prosecute Russian war crimes. It will also create a Euro-Atlantic security architecture with guarantees for Ukraine, restore Ukraine’s damaged electricity infrastructure and ensure security around Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.

Earlier in the day, Zelensky received open military and financial aid from the Italian authorities as well as a pledge of strong support for Ukraine’s cherished aim of joining the European Union.

“The message is clear and simple,” Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said as the two briefed reporters after Zelensky in his office after their meeting, which lasted more than an hour. “The future of Ukraine is a future of peace and freedom. And it is the future of Europe, a future of peace and freedom for which there are no other possible solutions.”

Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni (R) speaks during a joint press conference by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky after their meeting at the Chigi Palace government office in Rome, Italy, May 13, 2023. Zelensky, who also met with Italian President Sergio Mattarella. There is a day trip to Rome, which includes an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

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Meloni too renew your vows He championed Ukraine’s EU ambitions, saying that Ukraine was moving forward with necessary reforms despite the war.

The premier, who strongly supports military aid to Ukraine, said Italy would back the country “at all times necessary and beyond 360 degrees”.

Zelensky began his official meetings by meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella at the Presidential Quirinale Palace. “We are completely on your side,” Mattarella said, welcoming Zelensky. , both in the short and long term.

Since the start of the war, Italy has contributed about 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) in military and financial aid, as well as humanitarian aid.

Zelensky is believed to be heading to Berlin next for his first trip to Germany since the start of the war. The exact schedule was not publicly announced due to security concerns.

In late April, flying back to Rome from a trip to Hungary, Francis told reporters on the plane that the Vatican was involved in a behind-the-scenes peacekeeping mission, but gave no details. Neither Russia nor Ukraine has confirmed such an initiative.

He has said that he would like to visit Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, if such a visit could be combined with Moscow, in the hope that the papal pilgrimage could lead to peace.

Meanwhile, the German government said it is providing Ukraine with additional military aid worth more than 2.7 billion euros ($3 billion), including tanks, anti-aircraft systems and ammunition.

Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said Berlin wanted to show with the latest arms package that “Germany is serious in its support of Ukraine”.

“Germany will provide all possible assistance as long as it takes,” he said.

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