Vatican City, May 13 (EFE).- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with Pope Francis for 40 minutes at the Vatican amid the Pontiff’s efforts to bring an end to the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
Zelenskyy told the Pope that it was “a great honor” to see him while he put his hand to his heart, while the Pontiff thanked him “for the visit,” a Vatican statement said.
Pictures showed the Pope coming to greet Zelenskyy before ushering him into a papal studio near the Vatican’s audience call.
“The meeting, which lasted some 40 minutes, focused on the humanitarian and political situation in Ukraine following the ongoing war,” the statement said.
“(The Pope) assured the president of his constant prayers, as witnessed by his numerous public appeals and invocations to the Lord for peace.”
The two agreed to continue providing humanitarian aid to the population, and the Pope highlighted the need for “gestures of humanity towards the most fragile, the innocent victims of the conflict.”
Francis gave Zelenskyy a bronze sculpture representing an olive branch, a symbol of peace.
He gifted him with the 2019 Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together penned by the Pope and the Grand Imam of Al-Ahzar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb.
Zelenskyy also got a book on the Statio Orbis of 27 March 2020 and a volume entitled “An Encyclical on Peace in Ukraine.”
The Ukrainian president gave Pope a work of art crafted from a bulletproof plate and a painting entitled “Loss” on the killing of children in the war with Russia.
It was the first meeting between the two leaders since the war began, even though they are acquainted with each other as Francis had previously received Zelenskyy on February 8, 2020.
The meeting between Zelenskyy and Francis occurs amid the Vatican’s peace mission, which the pontiff announced after his trip to Hungary.
While details about the mission are not revealed, a Vatican source told the Russian media that the meeting between Zelenskyy and Francis “is not directly related” to it.
The same source said Zelenskyy had requested the meeting with Francis just a few days ago.
The meeting has given rise to hope that it could mark the beginning of peace talks, with a focus on addressing the urgent humanitarian issue in Ukraine.
It could pave the way for more comprehensive discussions on the conflict, which Pope Francis has consistently sought to approach from a neutral standpoint.
However, the approach has at times been a source of frustration for some Ukrainians. EFE