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Pope Francis Arrives In Iraq

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Pope Francis Arrives In Iraq

IRBIL, Iraq – Pope Francis has touched down in Iraq for the first-ever papal visit to the predominantly Muslim country, beginning a four-day visit in Baghdad, where yellow and white Vatican flags and likenesses of the pontiff flutter above hastily weeded traffic circles.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi welcomed Francis at Baghdad International Airport. He was greeted with fanfare as he stepped onto the red carpet, and then by a choir as he entered the airport.

Crowds of people waved Iraqi and Vatican flags as he passed on his way to sit and speak with the prime minister in a reception area of the airport. The conversation was not broadcast. As Francis left the airport, he passed people dancing and singing, few of whom were wearing masks.

The pope is set to cross the capital to the golden-domed presidential palace on the banks of the Tigris River and meet President Barham Saleh later Friday.

Meeting with Iraqi Christians

During the trip, Francis will meet leaders from Iraq’s dwindling Christian community and hold an inter-religious meeting at the ancient site of Ur, traditional birthplace of the biblical Abraham, revered by three faiths as the founder of monotheism.

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