(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has met with the commander-in-chief of Myanmar’s Armed Forces during the first day of his Apostolic Visit to the country.
The Pope held talks with Senior General Min Aung Hlaing at the Archbishop of Yangon’s residence shortly after his arrival in Myanmar on Monday.
Following the courtesy visit, which lasted 15 minutes, the pair exchanged gifts. Pope Francis presented Min Aung Hlaing with a commemorative medal of his visit and in return received a harp in the shape of a boat and an ornate rice bowl.
The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, said: “They discussed the great responsibility of authorities of the country in this time of transition.”
Last year, the United Nations officials called on Myanmar to end military operations that have “led to the systematic violation and abuse of human rights” of minorities in the country’s Rakhine state. The army has denied accusations of wrongdoing by security forces.
Accompanying the General at the meeting were several of his army staff including a number of Special Operations commanders. A translator from the Church of Myanmar aided the communication between Min Aung Hlaing and the Pope.
The meeting had originally been planned for Tuesday but was brought forward to Monday.