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Pope Francis meets with Volodymyr Zelensky

Pope Francis is
Pope Francis is

Pope Francis told Volodymyr Zelensky that he is "praying for peace" in Ukraine.

The 86-year-old pontiff met with the Ukrainian president at the Vatican on Saturday (13.05.23) and Zelensky explained how he sought support for his peace plan to end the war with Russia.

The Ukrainian leader held his hand over his heart and described it as a "great honour" to meet the pope, who was using a cane to help with his knee problem.

The Vatican said how the two men discussed Ukraine's "humanitarian and political situation provoked by the war going on".

A statement said: “Both agreed on the need to continue humanitarian efforts” to help the population. The pope underlined in particular the urgent need for humanitarian gestures toward the most fragile persons, innocent victims of the conflict."

Zelensky revealed that he asked Pope Francis to condemn Russian "crimes in Ukraine" as there can be “there can be no equality between the victim and the aggressor."

Pope Francis has regularly said that the Vatican is ready to act as a mediator in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia but the relationship with Kyiv has been troubled at times as the pontiff said in a previous interview that Moscow's invasion was "perhaps somehow provoked".

The Ukrainian leader had earlier met with Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni who had condemned Moscow's "brutal and unjust aggression" and and pledge Italy's support for the war-torn nation for "as long as is necessary".

In a joint press conference, she said: “You can’t achieve peace through a surrender. It would be a very grave precedent for all nations of the world."