VATICAN CITY — Iran’s president has paid a call on Pope Francis at the Vatican during a European visit aimed at positioning Tehran as a potential top player in efforts to resolve Middle East conflicts, including Syria’s civil war.
President Hassan Rouhani’s motorcade of limousines crossed St. Peter’s Square for the late-morning, closed-door meeting Tuesday with the pontiff.
The president is making the first state visit by an Iranian president to Europe in nearly two decades.
Rouhani’s four-day visit to Italy and next, to France, is part of efforts by Iran to reach out to its old partners following the implementation of the nuclear deal, and Rouhani is eager for foreign investments after the lifting of international sanctions. The trip was originally planned for November but postponed by the attacks in Paris.
This meeting continues to cement the Pope’s effort to uniting the world’s religions. Early this year the Pope released a commercial video calling for the world to pray for religious unity.