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Italy. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Rome

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Rome. In the afternoon, he went to the Vatican for a meeting with Pope Francis – the first since the start of Russian aggression almost 15 months ago. They had spoken twice on the phone since the outbreak of the war. Earlier, the head of the Ukrainian government had talks with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and President Sergio Mattarella.

About your stay in Rome Volodymyr Zelensky he announced on Twitter. “This is an important visit for the upcoming victory Ukraine” – he wrote.

President Zelensky flew by plane of the Italian Air Force from Rzeszów. The plane landed after 10 am at Rome’s Ciampino airport, where he was greeted by the head of the Italian Foreign Ministry Antonio Tajani.

“We renew our commitment alongside the Ukrainian people, in defense of freedom and democracy,” Tajani wrote on Twitter.

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Volodymyr Zelensky in Romezelenskiy_official/INSTAGRAM

Meeting with the President of Italy. “Our victory is peace”

Volodymyr Zelensky first went to a hotel near the Villa Borghese park. Around noon he arrived at the Presidential Palace on the Quirinal Hill, where the president Italian he assured him, “We stand completely by your side.”

As reported by Ansa, the Ukrainian president told Mattarelli at the Quirinal Palace that he had come to Rome to thank Italy. “I would like to embrace all Italians, one by one, for the support that is constantly being given to us at all levels,” Zelenski said. He also noted that this support has not changed with the change of governments in Italy.

Volodymyr Zelensky met with Italian President Sergio MattarellaPAP/EPA/QUIRINAL PALACE PRESS OFFICE HANDOUT

– We share common values ​​with Italy. We are for peace, our victory is peace. We are open to any international contribution, but we experience war on our territory, and peace must include justice on our territory,” Zelensky said.

Matarella reaffirmed “Italy’s full support for Ukraine in terms of military, financial, humanitarian and reconstruction assistance in the short and long term.” “At stake are not only Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity, but also the freedom of nations and international order,” the Italian president said. He added that “the peace we are all working for must restore justice and international law. It must be real peace, not capitulation.”

Volodymyr Zelensky met with Italian President Sergio MattarellaPAP/EPA/QUIRINAL PALACE PRESS OFFICE HANDOUT

According to sources at the Presidential Palace, the talks between the leaders of the two countries also included sanctions against Russia, the issue of the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhia, the fight against fake news, the need for more efficient action in the European dimension and the issue of abducting Ukrainian children to Russia, which Mattarella called “a shocking and shameful practice “. The Italian president also considered the decision of the European Union to start the process of integration with Ukraine as “historic”.

Talks with the head of the government and the Council of Ministers

After talks with the Italian president, around 1 p.m. Volodymyr Zelensky went to meet Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni at Palazzo Chigi. There, a working lunch was held with the head of the Italian government, followed by talks with other representatives of the Council of Ministers.

Zelensky and Meloni meet again after less than three months. In February, the head of the Italian government was in Kiev.

Volodymyr Zelensky met with Giorgia Meloni PAP/EPA/ANGELO CARCONI

Volodymyr Zelensky met with Giorgia Meloni PAP/EPA/ANGELO CARCONI

Audience with the Pope

The greatest interest, however, arouses the first meeting of the Ukrainian president since the outbreak of the war Pope Franciswhich started around 4 p.m. President Zelensky returned to the Vatican after more than three years. He had his first audience, less than a year after being sworn in as head of state, in February 2020.

The president is expected to renew his invitation for the pope to visit his country. This ground-breaking encounter comes at a crucial time with a Ukrainian counter-offensive expected in the near future.

Less than two weeks ago, Francis told reporters Fr “peace mission” of the Holy Seeprovided that it has not been publicly announced. Nothing else is known about it since then. Since the beginning of the full-scale Russian aggression against Ukraine, the pope has spoken out about this war more than 120 times.

In Rome, there are security measures raised to the highest levelPAP/EPA/ANGELO CARCONI

In the capital of Italy, security measures have been raised to the highest level. For Zelensky, this is a return to Rome after more than three years. He visited Italy and the Vatican in February 2020, a few weeks before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Main photo source: PAP/EPA/QUIRINAL PALACE PRESS OFFICE HANDOUT



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