Pope Francis lands in Egypt for peace-focused trip

Published 28.04.2017 15:57
Updated 28.04.2017 20:41
Pope Francis arrives at Cairo's airport, Egypt, Friday, April 28, 2017. (AP Photo)
Pope Francis arrives at Cairo's airport, Egypt, Friday, April 28, 2017. (AP Photo)

Pope Francis arrived in Egypt on Friday for a historic visit aimed at promoting peace and inter-faith dialogue with the Islamic world.

The pontiff's arrival was shown in a live broadcast on Egyptian state television.

He was welcomed at Cairo airport by Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, who accompanied him to the presidential place in eastern Cairo where President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi met him.

Later on Friday, Francis is to address a conference on international peace, hosted by al-Azhar, the world's foremost Sunni Islamic centre of learning.

He is also scheduled to meet with Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II.

Francis said on his flight from Rome that expectations of the visit are high. He called the two-day trip a "journey of unity and fraternity."

The pontiff's visit to Egypt comes amid increasing militant attacks against the Christian minority.

Earlier this month, 46 people were killed on Palm Sunday in suicide bombings at two Coptic churches in Egypt.

The April 9 attacks were claimed by the Daesh.

Tight security measures have been imposed in Cairo for the papal trip.

State television reported that al-Sissi ordered the army to participate with the police in securing the visit.

Welcoming banners were placed across Cairo carrying the motto for the trip: "Pope of Peace in Egypt of Peace."

On Saturday, Francis will lead a Mass at the military-run Air Defence Stadium, on the outskirts of Cairo, before meeting with Egyptian Catholic church leaders.

Francis becomes the second Vatican leader to visit Egypt, after John Paul II visited in 2000.

Egypt has the largest Christian community in the region, accounting for around 10 per cent of the country's 92 million mostly Muslim population.

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