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Rohani, Pope Francis Meet At Vatican, Exchange Gifts

Pope Francis (center right) and Iranian President Hassan Rohani (center left) exchange gifts during their private audience at the Vatican on January 26.

Iran's President Hassan Rohani and Pope Francis have exchanged gifts during a private meeting at the Vatican on January 26.

Meanwhile, a Vatican statement says Pope Francis called upon Tehran to play a key role in stopping the spread of terrorism and weapons trafficking as Iran tries to improve its global image following an agreement on its nuclear program.

Rohani brought the pope a red-toned Persian carpet, measuring about 80 centimeters by 1.2 meters, and explained that it was handmade in Iran's holy Shi’ite city of Qom.

Pope Francis gave a medal to Rohani depicting St. Martin of Tours cutting his cloak in half and giving part of it to a shivering man.

The pope said the gesture represents a sign of brotherhood.

Rohani is on a four-day visit to Italy and France, the first state visit by an Iranian president to Europe in nearly two decades.

Earlier on January 26, Rohani told business leaders in Rome that "Iran is the safest and most stable country of the entire region."

Rohani is seeking foreign investment after the lifting of international sanctions against Iran on January 16 under its nuclear accord with world powers.

After Rome, the Iranian president flies to Paris for talks with French President Francois Hollande.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters