Pope: ‘Sincere effort’ needed on Ukraine

Pope Francis met privately yesterday with Russian president Vladimir Putin at the Vatican, using the talks to call for a sincere effort aimed at bringing peace to Ukraine.

Pope: ‘Sincere effort’ needed on Ukraine

Vatican spokesman Rev Federico Lombardi said their talks concentrated on the Ukraine conflict and the Middle East, where the Holy See is worried about the fate of the Christian minority.

Putin earlier yesterday met Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi in Milan and arrived an hour late to the meeting at the Vatican — his second with Francis since he became Pope in 2013.

Lombardi said Francis stressed the need “to commit oneself in a sincere and great effort to bring” peace to Ukraine, through dialogue and implementation of the Minsk accords.

Francis also urged access for humanitarian aid.

Earlier yesterday, US ambassador to the Holy See, Kenneth Hackett, said the US would like to see the Vatican increase its concern about what is happening in Ukraine during the Pope’s meeting with Putin.

“We think they could say something more about concern of territorial integrity, those types of issues,” he told reporters. “It does seem that Russia is supporting the insurgents. And it does seem that there are Russian troops inside Ukraine. This is a very serious situation.”

Earlier, however, Putin won lavish praise from Renzi as a crucial player in international anti-terrorism efforts, as Renzi sought the Russian president’s help in ending the conflict in Libya that has fuelled the Mediterranean migrant crisis.

Renzi did not voice criticism against Russia’s actions in Ukraine, saying simply that they both agreed there must be full implementation of the Minsk peace accord.

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