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Brazil’s Lula discusses peace, poverty and inequality with pope

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VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis met Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Wednesday and discussed a range of common concerns including peace, poverty, inequality and the environment, the Vatican said.

Although the Vatican did not specifically mention Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Lula made clear before the meeting that seeking an end to the war was a priority.

“There was a positive exchange of views on … topics of common interest, such as the promotion of peace and reconciliation,” the brief statement said.

Underscoring this sentiment, the pope gave Lula a bronze sculpture with the inscription: “Peace is a fragile flower.”

Pope Francis and Lula have both repeatedly called for a halt to the fighting and pitched their respective offices as potential peace brokers.

“Both (Russia and Ukraine) believe they can win militarily. I do not agree. I think too few people are talking of peace,” Lula told Corriere della Sera newspaper in an interview published on Wednesday.

The Vatican said the two men had also discussed respect for indigenous peoples and protection of the environment.

Lula took office on Jan. 1 promising to ramp up efforts to end deforestation in the Amazon after years of surging destruction under his predecessor Jair Bolsonaro.

Earlier this month, his government outlined plans to eliminate illegal deforestation in the rainforest by 2030.

Lula met a number of Italian leaders during his brief visit to Rome, including Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and President Sergio Mattarella. He is due to fly to Paris on Thursday to attend a global financial summit.

(Reporting by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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