Iran Leader Asks Pope to ‘Pray For Me’ After Vatican Talks
During his European tour, Iran’s leader met with Pope Francis asking for one humble request: “Pray for me.” The meeting was part of the president’s plan to make Iran a more prominent place in the world’s eye since signing a nuclear deal with Western powers. Hassan Rouhani’s visit to the Holy See marked the first visit between a pope and an Iranian leader since 1999. Iran, who recently agreed to “limit its nuclear activities in exchange for an end to economic sanctions, is eager to carve out a bigger role in mediating Middle East conflicts,” shared Fox News. Pope Francis is known for his conflict and mediation tactics, leaving Iran hopeful for the future.
As a gift to the Pope, Rouhani brought a red-toned hand-made rug from the holy city of Qhom. Rouhani is on a four-day tour in Europe, eager to boost Iran’s image abroad. During his trip, he hopes to reestablish economic ties with several countries that were “big trade” partners before the sanctions were put into place. “I ask you to pray for me,” Rouhani shared with Francis once the 40-minute meeting concluded. “I hope for peace,” Francis responded and thanked Rouhani for the visit. The Pope gave the Iranian leader a medal representing St. Martin helping a poor man. Pope Francis called the act “a sign of unsolicited brotherhood.” Prior to his visit with Pope Francis, Rouhani shared with a group of business leaders in Rome that “Iran is the safest and most stable country of the entire region.” After the meeting, the Vatican issued a statement urging Iran to “use its rising profile on the world stage to combat terrorism,” shared CBS News. Italy sees Iran as a potential peacemaker regarding the civil war in Syria. “Italy has always backed the role of Iran as a regional player in resolving tensions in the area, starting with the Syrian crisis,” shared Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni after meeting his Iranian counterpart, according to his office. Rouhani believes the political talks leading up to the nuclear deal were a possible blueprint for peace in the Middle East.