VATICAN CITY – Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and Pope Francis met on Tuesday at the Vatican, in order to discuss their “common spiritual values” about things such as the role of Iran in the nuclear deal, terrorism, arms trafficking, tolerance and peace, in a private reunion that took 40 minutes.

This is the first time that a Pope and an Iranian president reunite at the Vatican, since 1999, when pope St. John Paul II met Mohammad Khatami. The reunion took place as part of the plans of Mr. Hassan Rouhani to visit Italy and France in order to establish business relations again, since sanctions against Iran are expected to be lifted if the country limits its nuclear activities and nuclear development.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani walks with Pope Francis at the Vatican, Jan. 26, 2016. Credit: CBS News/Reuters
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani walks with Pope Francis at the Vatican, Jan. 26, 2016. Credit: CBS News/Reuters

A statement from the Vatican said that during the cordial discussions, common spiritual values emerged. Hassan Rouhani and pope Francis also talked about the life of the Catholic Church in Iran and the “good” relations among the Holy See and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“Attention then turned to the conclusion and application of the Nuclear Accord and the important role that Iran is called upon to fulfil, along with other countries in the region, to promote suitable political solutions to the problems afflicting the Middle East, to counter the spread of terrorism and arms trafficking. In this respect, the Parties highlighted the importance of interreligious dialogue and the responsibility of religious communities in promoting reconciliation, tolerance and peace,” said a statement from the Vatican on Tuesday.

The Catholic leader, who became pope almost three years ago, has always stressed his beliefs against violence done in the name of religion. Diplomacy and dialogue related to conflict in the Middle East have also been encouraged by pope Francis, who talked on Tuesday to the Iranian president about the action of the Holy See to promote human person dignity and freedom of religion, the Vatican said.

In 2015, Pope Francis said on Easter that the nuclear deal between Iran, the U.S., China, Russia, France, the UK, and Germany presented a “definitive step toward a more secure world”. On Tuesday, Iranian President Rouhani also met at the Vatican with the Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and the Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, according to Vatican Radio.

At the end of the meeting, Mr. Rouhani gave to the Argentinian Pope a handmade rug from Qhom, an Iranian holy city, and a book with miniatures, reported media from the Vatican. On the other hand, Pope Francis gave to president Rouhani a medal that portraits St. Martin, and a copy of his encyclical Laudato Si, where he encourages people to take “unified global action” against global warming, and consumerism.

Source: Vatican Radio