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President to meet Pope, attend G-8 summit

President Lee Myung-bak (second from the right) and First Lady Kim Yoon-ok arrive in Rome, the second destination of his 8-day Europe trip, on July 8 (Italy time). (Photo: Yonhap News)President Lee Myung-bak arrived in Rome on Wednesday July 8 (local time) after departing from Poland, the first destination of his 8-day official trip to Europe.

President Lee will pay a visit to Vatican City to meet Pope Benedict XVI on July 9. Lee will be the third serving Korean president to have met the Pope.

President Lee and the Pope will discuss ways to enhance relations between Korean catholic churches and the Vatican and seek for a message of peace and harmony. Lee will ask the Pope to appoint one more cardinal for Korea, since Korea has the second largest population of Roman Catholic believers in Asia after the Philippines. He will also ask the Vatican to declare 125 Korean catholic martyrs as saints, since they lost their lives because of the persecution against the Catholic faith in the early 19th century in Korea.

After visiting Vatican City, President Lee will move to the central Italian city of L’Aquila to attend the extended G-8 summit and the Major Economies Forum (MEF), which will be held on the sidelines of the summit, on July 9-10.

President Lee is to ask for international support in fighting against protectionism, discuss free trade and climate change issues and introduce Korea’s "low carbon, green growth" policy to the leaders of 17 countries at the MEF.

In L’Aquila, Lee will have a series of summit talks with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to discuss ways to boost bilateral relations and ask for their support on the North Korean issue.

By Yoon Sojung Staff Writer

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