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Russia, Vatican to continue 'open dialogue' toward settlement on Ukraine — ambassador

"The Pontiff confirmed his respectful attitude to Russia, the Russian people, its culture and history," Ivan Soltanovsky said

VATICAN CITY, September 18. /TASS/. Russian Ambassador to the Holy See Ivan Soltanovsky has discussed with Pope Francis the mission of his papal envoy, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, to achieve a settlement on Ukraine.

The diplomat's first personal meeting with the pontiff took place on Monday after the handover of credentials. According to the ambassador, the atmosphere of the meeting was friendly. "The Pontiff confirmed his respectful attitude to Russia, the Russian people, its culture and history. We discussed, in particular, the mission of the papal special envoy for Ukraine, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, aimed at solving a number of humanitarian issues. We expressed support for it," the Russian ambassador said.

"We agreed to continue an honest and open dialogue with the Holy See, traditionally based on mutual respect," Soltanovsky told TASS.

Soltanovsky was appointed ambassador on May 16 by a decree from Russian President Vladimir Putin. He is also Russia’s representative to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, the oldest Catholic order.

From 2015 until November 22, 2022, Soltanovsky served as Russia's permanent representative to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France. Last March, a note was handed to Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejcinovic Buric announcing Russia's withdrawal from the organization after it became "an instrument of anti-Russian policy."

Earlier, it was reported that the Russian embassy to the Vatican facilitates the process of prisoner exchanges between Russia and Ukraine. In addition, Francis appointed his envoy for the Ukrainian settlement. Within the framework of this mission, which, as the Vatican emphasizes, is centered on humanitarian issues, he has already visited Kiev, Moscow, Washington and Beijing.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on September 15 that "the Vatican envoy is going to come again" and Moscow will welcome him. On his first visit in late June, Zuppi, who is president of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, met with Yury Ushakov, Russian presidential aide for foreign policy issues, Maria Lvova-Belova, the Russian president's commissioner for children's rights, and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia.