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President Thabo Mbeki is due to hold talks with the newly elected
Pope Benedict XVI tomorrow on ways the Roman Catholic Church can
help fight poverty and underdevelopment in the third world.
The Presidency announced today that President Mbeki would, during
his two-day official visit to Rome, pay a courtesy call on His
Holiness after holding political discussions with the Italian
The stopover aims to cement political and economic relations
between Tshwane and Rome.
President Mbeki will be among the first world leaders to have
audience with the German-born Pope following his installation last
The selection of Pope Ratzinger drew mixed reactions in the
developing world where most of the more than one billion followers
Many particularly in Africa and South America expected one of their
leaders to be posted to the Vatican.
However, Mbeki welcomed the election of Pope Ratzinger saying he
was convinced that the new Pope would remain an "ally" of Africa
and the entire globe.
"South Africa expresses the conviction that Pope Benedict XVI and
indeed the Roman Catholic Church will remain seized of and ally
themselves with the struggle for a better Africa and a better
world," he said immediately after the Pope's election.
Meanwhile, Mbeki is also expected to meet and share notes on global
economics with the European, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) CEO
Summit in Venice during his European tour.
The gathering is the largest of CEOs and Chairpersons in three
regions representing numerous multinational corporations in those
It is expected that captains of industry will engage President
Mbeki on wide-ranging issues impacting on the corporate sector as
well as finding ways to help Africa's fight against poverty and
underdevelopment in the continent.
Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa will accompany
President Mbeki. - BuaNews