Blinken meets with Pope and Italian officials | Voice of America

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the Vatican on Monday to meet with Pope Francis and other officials including climate change, human rights and human trafficking are among the topics of discussion.

The visit precedes a meeting scheduled for October between the Pope and US President Joe Biden, who is the second Catholic to lead the United States.

In addition to meetings with Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the senior American diplomat received a visit to the Sala Regia and the Sistine Chapel.

Also on Monday, Blinken and Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio co-chaired a meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS where State Department officials said ministers will discuss continuing the pressure on the militant group. in Iraq and Syria while also working to counter affiliates elsewhere in the country. world.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the Vatican on Monday to meet with Pope Francis and other officials on June 28, 2021.

Patrick Worman, acting director of the US office of the Special Envoy to Defeat ISIS, told reporters that the meeting will particularly focus on “the new challenges ISIS poses in Africa”, particularly in Africa. in the West and in the Sahel.

The United States launched a coalition effort, now involving 83 members, to defeat the Islamic State group in 2014 after militants took control of a large area in northern Syria and Iraq, and in 2019 said the activists had been ousted from their last territory.

“ISIS remains a determined enemy,” Worman told reporters. “There is still a lot of work to be done in Iraq and Syria, where ISIS continues to carry out attacks and spread fear among the local populations.”

Worman said the coalition was working with the Iraqi government, including supporting Iraqi security forces, to “target remaining ISIS cells, deny ISIS sanctuary, and wipe out media, finance and civilians. ISIS facilitation networks “.

Worman also stressed the need to help victims of ISIS’s atrocities, to hold those who committed crimes to account, and to focus on humanitarian efforts.

Another meeting on Monday focuses specifically on Syria, where in addition to issues related to the Islamic State group, Blinken, De Maio and other ministers will focus on resuming efforts to end the decade-long conflict in Syria. .

Humanitarian access, especially the ability of the United Nations to provide cross-border aid, will be one of the issues highlighted by Blinken, the State Department said.

He is also expected to discuss US support for an immediate ceasefire in Syria.

“Stability in Syria, and in the region as a whole, can only be achieved through a political process that represents the will of all Syrians,” the acting deputy secretary of the Office of Near-Eastern Affairs told reporters. East, Joey Hood. “We are committed to working with our allies, partners and the United Nations to ensure that a lasting political solution remains within reach.

Efforts to resolve the Syrian conflict, by combining an end to the fighting and the implementation of a political roadmap approved by the UN Security Council, have made little progress in recent years.

Hood said that the international community “must renew its common determination to ensure the protection, dignity and human rights of the Syrian people”.

Blinken is on a multinational tour of Europe, which brings him to Matera, Italy on Tuesday for a meeting of G-20 foreign ministers. The agenda for these talks includes the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, and a fair economic recovery.


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