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Pope, Top Muslim Cleric Meet At Vatican In Historic Visit

Pope Francis has met the grand imam of Cairo's Al-Azhar Mosque at the Vatican in a historic meeting during which the two embraced and exchanged kisses.

It was the first Vatican meeting between the leader of the Catholic Church and the highest authority in Sunni Islam.

The May 23 meeting came after a five-year pause in dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the mosque after Al-Azhar took offense at comments made by Pope Benedict.

"Our meeting is the message," the pope said in a brief comment at the start of his meeting with Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb.

In a statement, Al-Azhar said Tayeb had accepted the pope's invitation in order to "explore efforts to spread peace and co-existence."

The "very cordial" meeting lasted around 30 minutes, the Vatican said in a statement after the talks.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters