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Pope Backs 'Sovereign Rights Of Nations' During Visit To Tbilisi


Pope Francis has arrived in Georgia for a three-day trip to the Caucasus that will also take him to Azerbaijan as he meets with political and religious leaders in both countries.

Francis was greeted in Tbilisi on September 30 by Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili and by the leader of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia.

At the presidential palace in Tbilisi, standing beside Margvelashvili, Francis issuing a call for the respect of international law and the sovereign rights of nations.

His remarks, though measured, were seen as implicit criticism of Russia – which keeps military troops in Georgia's breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions.

On October 2, Francis will fly to Baku and hold Mass at the Salesian-run Church of the Immaculate Conception. Later, he will visit the monument to those who died in the struggle for independence and meet with government leaders.

The pope's visit to Azerbaijan will end with a series of interreligious meetings, including one with the sheikh of Muslims in the Caucasus at the Heydar Aliyev mosque.

Based on reporting by AP and dpa
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