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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Pope and Iraqi leader discuss protecting Christians and national sovereignty

Pope Francis met with Iraq’s president for private talks underlining the need for promoting stability, reconstruction, national sovereignty and dialogue in the country as well as guaranteeing security for Christians.

The closed-door meeting between the pope and President Barham Salih at the Vatican on 25th January lasted about 30 minutes, pool reports said.

“During the cordial discussions, the good bilateral relations” between the two countries were discussed as well as the challenges Iraq currently faces, according to a Vatican statement.

The topics included “the importance of promoting stability and the reconstruction process, encouraging the path of dialogue and the search for suitable solutions in favour of citizens and with respect for national sovereignty,” the Vatican said.

In fact, their meeting came the same month tensions escalated between Iraq, Iran and the United States.

Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing US troops on 8th January in retaliation for the US targeted killing of Iran’s top militia commander, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, in Baghdad on 3rd January Seeing the US strike as a violation of its sovereignty, Iraq’s government requested the US begin talks to pull its forces out its country. The strikes have also likely complicated the pope’s plans to visit Iraq this year.

Picture: Pope Francis greets Iraqi President Barham Salih at the Vatican on 25th January 2020. The two leaders discussed guaranteeing the safety of Christians and the need for promoting stability, reconstruction, national sovereignty and dialogue in the country. (CNS photo/Vatican Media).