Pope Francis meets Kiir at the Vatican

Pope Francis received South Sudan's President Salva Kiir Mayardit inside the Vatican Saturday, the Vatican media reported.

Kiir subsequently met with the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who was accompanied by Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Vatican Secretary for Relations with States.

According to the communique published by the Vatican Press Office, the cordial discussions highlighted the good bilateral relations between the Holy See and South Sudan, as well as the contribution of the Catholic Church in the educational and health field, and in the process of reconciliation and reconstruction of the nation.

Other issues touched on, according to the communique, included questions concerning the implementation of the revitalised peace agreement, with a view to the definitive resolution of the conflict, the return of refugees and displaced persons, and the integral development of South Sudan.

The Vatican said Pope Francis expressed the wish that conditions for a possible visit to South Sudan might be met, as a sign of closeness to the people and encouragement to the peace process.

It is not the first time the Pope has said he wants to visit South Sudan. In 2017, he hoped to make an ecumenical visit to Africa's youngest nation along with the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. The trip had to be called off because of security reasons.

In September 2018, South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and several opposition leaders, including main opposition leader Riek Machar signed a peace deal to end the civil war that has claimed thousands of lives and displaced millions of people since the beginning of the conflict in December 2013.

According to investigations carried out by Radio Tamazuj, at least 40 church leaders were killed during the conflict in South Sudan between December 2013 and March 2017.

Source: Radio Tamazuj

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