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Russia: Yeltsin To Visit Pope John Paul

Moscow, 12 January 1998 (RFE/RL) - The Kremlin announced today that President Boris Yeltsin will visit Italy next month and will meet Pope John Paul. Kremlin spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky also said that during Yeltsin's visit from February 9 to 11 he will hold talks with Italian President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro and Prime Minister Romano Prodi. Yeltsin's announced meeting with the pope comes as the Russian Orthodox Church and the Vatican said today they would resume talks in Moscow tomorrow and Wednesday to try to resolve their differences and prepare for a meeting between the Pope and Patriarch Alexiy II. They had planned to meet in Austria this summer, but Alexy cancelled because of unresolved disputes with the Vatican.

Yastrzhembsky also said Yeltsin would end his two-week holiday in northwestern Russia this weekend and return to the Kremlin next Monday. He also said Yeltsin would meet tomorrow with First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov who will return with video footage of Yeltsin to "ease the media's nervousness" over his health.