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Thai PM has audience with Pope Francis

Pope says he may visit Thailand next year

<p>Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra presents a gift to Pope Francis</p>

Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra presents a gift to Pope Francis

  • Alessandro Speciale, Vatican City
  • Vatican City
  • September 13, 2013
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Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra invited Pope Francis to visit her country during the first ever audience of a Thai head of government at the Vatican.

Shinawatra met privately with the pontiff on Sept 12, during a European tour.

“His Holiness replied that he might go to Thailand next year,” Thailand's ambassador to the Holy See, Chalermpol Thanchitt, told ucanews.com. “We would like very much to welcome the Holy Father to Thailand.”

Francis has said that a trip to Asia is one of his priorities, as his predecessor Benedict XVI never went to East Asia during his pontificate. India and Philippines are likely destinations and it has been strongly suggested that the pope will visit Sri Lanka too.

During their brief meeting at the Vatican, the two leaders also discussed the role of Catholics and Christians in Thailand, who number around 400,000. Shinawatra praised the “contribution they bring to society, in terms of education and human resources.”

According to a Vatican statement, the two leaders “went on to discuss various matters of current international interest and the political situation in Asia, focusing in particular on the importance of intercultural and interreligious dialogue for the promotion of human rights, peace and justice throughout the region.” 

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