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Pope meets Russian President

ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Pope Francis and Russian President Vladimir Putin met on Monday and discussed the Middle East and problems faced by Christians in various parts of the world but did not touch on the strained relationship between the Vatican and the Orthodox Church. The 35-minute meeting at the Vatican was the first between Pope Francis and Putin, who met the pontiff's two immediate predecessors, Benedict and John Paul II. "It was quite a cordial and constructive meeting," Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told reporters after the encounter to which Putin arrived around 45 minutes late because of transport problems. Relations between the Catholic Church and Russia have long been uneasy because of accusations that the Vatican has tried to poach believers from the Orthodox Church, a charge it denies.

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