Pope Francis to meet with Putin during UN visit

During his on Sept. 25 visit to the United Nations, Pope Francis will meet privately with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Holy See said Wednesday.

Bebeto Matthews/AP
Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Vatican's apostolic nuncio and U.N. ambassador, speaks during a press conference, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, in New York. Archbishop Auza said that in addition to addressing the 193-member General Assembly on Sept. 25, the pope will speak to U.N. staff and hold four private meetings including one with Russian President Vladimir Putin whose country chairs the U.N. Security Council this month.

Pope Francis will deliver a speech in his native Spanish to world leaders and meet privately with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a whirlwind visit to the United Nations, the Holy See said Wednesday.

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Vatican's apostolic nuncio and U.N. ambassador, said the pope's address to the 193-member General Assembly on Sept. 25 will likely focus on the need for peace and economic development in a conflict-torn world facing the biggest refugee crisis since World War II. The plight of the hundreds of thousands of migrants seeking safety and a new life in Europe will also be raised, he said.

He said the pope's 2 1/2-hour visit to the United Nations will be the fifth by a pope and the shortest because of time constraints.

Auza said the pope is expected to express appreciation in his General Assembly speech for the U.N. role in trying to minimize conflict and alleviate suffering — but he said the world body has also seen "lots of failures."

"There is no greater failure of the U.N. than to be incapable, unable to prevent what is going on in the Middle East now and North Africa," the archbishop said.

Immediately after he leaves U.N. headquarters, Francis will head to the site where the World Trade Center stood before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, a visit Auza said the pope insisted upon.

During his U.N. visit, Francis will have a one-on-one meeting with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and then a larger meeting with U.N. and Vatican officials, Auza said.

He will then address U.N. staff members and hold private meetings with the outgoing and incoming assembly presidents and Putin, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the U.N. Security Council in September. Putin has met Francis at least twice previously.

Auza said the pope will be staying at his residence on New York's fashionable upper East Side which was given to the Holy See in the 1970s as the residence for its U.N. representative by the family of New York mayor Hugh Grant who built it and died there in 1910.

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