First papal visit to India since 1999 likely after PM Modi's invite to Pope Francis

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday invited Pope Francis to visit India as he called on the head of the Catholic Church at the Vatican ...

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday invited Pope Francis to visit India as he called on the head of the Catholic Church at the Vatican in their first-ever one-to-one meeting.

At the Vatican, Modi was accompanied by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

It was the first-ever one-to-one meeting between Prime Minister Modi and Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church.

Modi is also the first Indian Prime Minister Francis has met since becoming Pope in 2013.

Briefing reporters on Prime Minister Modi's historic meeting with the 84-year-old Pontiff, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said the two leaders did not discuss the exact dates of the papal visit.

"The prime minister said 'Please visit India at your earliest convenience. Obviously, the actual details will be worked out through diplomatic channels," he said.

"The fact of the matter is that the Prime Minister did invite the Pope. The significance of the invitation is well known to us. The last Papal visit to India was in 1999 when Pope John Paul II visited India. It is obviously going to be a very important visit for both India to receive His Holiness and for the Pope to visit India," he said.

"The Pope was delighted to visit India. Although he has never visited India, he has a great sentiment about our country and he said 'this is the greatest gift you have given me, I am really looking forward to visit India'," Shringla quoted the Pope as saying.

Modi gave Pope Francis a silver candelabra and a book, The Climate Climb: India's strategy, actions and achievements. The Pope gave Modi a collection of his main teaching documents and a bronze medallion featuring a tree and the words in Italian “The desert will become a garden."

The Prime Minister also met Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Vatican City State. The first Pope to visit India was Paul IV, who visited Mumbai in 1964. Pope John Paul II visited India in February 1986 and November 1999.

Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan in October 2019 met Pope Francis at the Vatican.

With inputs from agencies

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India World News: First papal visit to India since 1999 likely after PM Modi's invite to Pope Francis
First papal visit to India since 1999 likely after PM Modi's invite to Pope Francis
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