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Raul Castro and Pope Francis to Meet at Vatican

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Cuban President Raul Castro will meet Pope Francis in a private audience at the Vatican.

The Argentine Pope played a key role in a recent diplomatic rapprochement between the US and Cuba.

Raul Castro, who is stopping off as he returns from Russia’s WW2 Victory Day parade, wishes to thank Pope Francis for his help, Vatican radio says.

The Roman Catholic Church has maintained relations with Cuba since the 1959 revolution.Raul Castro and Pope Francis meeting

Pope Francis will visit Cuba on his way to the US in September.

In 1996, Pope John Paul II became the first pontiff to receive a Cuban leader when Fidel Castro travelled to the Vatican.

Raul Castro, the brother of Fidel, was last in Rome in 1997 when he was defense minister. At the time he was preparing the historic visit of John Paul II to Havana the following year.

The Catholic Church has organized a series of secret diplomatic meetings to broker the US-Cuban rapprochement.

The talks directly involved Pope Francis. The US had imposed a trade embargo soon after Cuba’s revolution, which it began to lift at the end of 2014.


Pope Francis, 78, will be the third pontiff to travel to Cuba, following visits there by John Paul II in 1998 and Benedict XVI in 2012.

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