Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on Pope Francis on Saturday, October 31, and discussed a wide range of issues, including the fight against climate change and removing poverty, during their first-ever one-on-one meeting. PM Modi, who is the first Indian Prime Minister to meet Francis since he became Pope in 2013, invited the head of the Catholic Church to visit India.
It may be recalled that the last Papal Visit happened in 1999 when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister and Pope John Paul II visited India. Now it is during Modi's Prime Ministerial term that the Pope has been invited to visit India, sources said. The meeting between Prime Minister Modi and Pope Francis that was scheduled only for 20 minutes went on for an hour, they said. The pair discussed a wide range of issues aimed at making the planet better such as fighting climate change and removing poverty, sources said.
At the Vatican, Modi was accompanied by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. The Prime Minister also met Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Vatican City State.
Ahead of the historic meeting, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Friday, October 29, said that the Vatican has not set an agenda for the meeting. "I believe, tradition is not to have an agenda when you discuss issues with His Holiness. And I think we would respect that," he had said.
"I am sure the issues would cover a range of areas of interest in terms of the general global perspectives and issues that are important to all of us, COVID-19, health issues, how we can work together to maintain peace and tranquility and this is something that, I think would be the general trend in the discussions," he had added.