Ukraine's Zelensky meets with Pope Francis, national leaders in Italy

Pope Francis (L) receives Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a meeting at the Vatican on Saturday. Photo by Vatican Press Service/EPA-EFE
1 of 2 | Pope Francis (L) receives Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a meeting at the Vatican on Saturday. Photo by Vatican Press Service/EPA-EFE

May 13 (UPI) -- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with Pope Francis, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and other top national leaders Saturday in what he called "an important visit" for his war effort against Russia.

"Today in Rome,'' Zelensky tweeted. "I'm meeting with President of Italy Sergio Mattarella, Prime Minister of Italy @GiorgiaMeloni and the Pope @Pontifex. An important visit for approaching victory of Ukraine!"


Zelensky and Meloni met face-to-face at the Palazzo Chigi, Meloni's official residence in Rome for about 70 minutes in talks conducted in English without interpreters.

Meloni was expected to tell the Ukrainian leader that Italy, in conjunction with its European Union allies, will continue to provide military assistance and other types of support to his nation until Russia ceases its hostilities in the region, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

The Italian premier told reporters in a post-meeting press briefing that the two had a "long and fruitful discussion" during which she expressed support for Zelensky's 10-point peace plan, which he introduced at a G20 summit meeting in November.


The plan calls for the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory as well as setting up a war crimes tribunal, releasing of all prisoners and Ukrainians who have been forcibly relocated into Russian territory.

The Ukrainian leader was later received at the Vatican for a private meeting with Pope Francis.

The meeting at the Apostolic Palace lasted 40 minutes and focused on the "humanitarian and political situation in Ukraine," official Vatican media reported.

The two each agreed that humanitarian aid to the Ukrainian population is essential, with Francis particularly emphasizing "gestures of humanity" towards the "most fragile and innocent victims of the conflict."

Earlier Saturday, Zelensky also conferred with Italian President Mattarella at his official resident in Rome. Like the prime minister, he also expressed Italy's full support for Ukraine.

"I reaffirm Italy's full support for Ukraine in terms of military, financial, humanitarian and reconstruction aid in the short and long term," Mattarella said, according to ANSA. "Not only the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine are at stake, but also the freedom of peoples and the international order."

Ukrainians march through London to mark anniversary of Russian invasion

Ukrainians march together through the streets of London to the Russian Embassy to mark the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2023. Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo

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