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Senior Vatican Diplomat Holds Talks In Belarus

MINSK -- The secretary of state of the Vatican, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, has met with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to discuss bilateral ties.

The Belarusian Foreign Ministry said the talks were held on March 13, a day after Parolin's arrival in Minsk.

Lukashenka stressed during the talks that his country enjoys inter-religious concord and Belarusian Catholics are given all opportunities to practice their faith.

Parolin said the goal of his visit was to develop contacts with Belarusian authorities.

According to Belapan news agency, he said he was "happy to hear your high assessment of the role the Catholic community plays in your country."

Earlier on March 13, Parolin held talks with Belarusian Foreign Minister, Uladzimer Makey and discussed the Roman Catholic Church's situation in Belarus, a mostly Orthodox Christian former Soviet republic in which more than 7 percent of the population of 9.5 million is Catholic.

Parolin is expected to remain in Belarus until March 15.

With reporting by BelaPAN
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