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Pope: Dialogue with Islam, olive branch to China
Vatican City, March 22, 2013
First Published: 16:27 IST(22/3/2013)
Last Updated: 16:29 IST(22/3/2013)

Pope Francis has called for more dialogue with Islam and offered an olive branch to China and other countries that don't have diplomatic relations with the Holy See.

Francis met on Friday with ambassadors from the 180 countries that have diplomatic relations with the Holy See and told them he wanted to work for peace, the poor and to "build bridges" between peoples. He noted that even his title "pontiff" means bridge-builder.

Francis said it was important to intensify dialogue among different religions "particularly dialogue with Islam" and to deepen the church's outreach to atheists. He said he wanted to begin a "journey" with countries that don't yet have diplomatic relations.

His predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, had made improving relations with China a priority, but tensions remain.

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