President Thabo Mbeki to meet Pope Benedict XVI

Pretoria - President Thabo Mbeki, accompanied by Minister of Trade and Industry Mandisi Mpahlwa, is scheduled to visit Italy from Friday - Saturday, 6-7 May 2005 where he will pay a courtesy call on the newly installed Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI and hold political and economic discussions with the leadership of Italy, before addressing the European, Middle East and Africa Chief Executive Officer Summit.

Rome

President Mbeki is scheduled to hold discussions with his Italian counterpart President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Rome on Friday, 6 May 2005.

Issues on the agenda are expected to include the consolidation of political and economic bilateral relations, European support for the African agenda, peacekeeping and conflict management in Africa, the forthcoming G8 Summit and reform of the United Nations.

Holy See

On conclusion of political discussions in Rome, President Mbeki will travel to the Holy See where he is scheduled to meet the newly elected Head of the Roman Catholic Church, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.

Following his election as the Head of the Roman Catholic Church, President Mbeki had expressed "the conviction that Pope Benedict XVI and indeed the Roman Catholic Church will remain seized of and ally themselves with the struggle for a better Africa and a better world." It is envisaged that President Mbeki will reconfirm the important role of the Church in supporting the fight against poverty and underdevelopment.

Venice

On Saturday, 7 May 2005 President Mbeki will, at the invitation of US bank Morgan Stanley, address the European, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) CEO Summit in Venice. The Summit, scheduled from Thursday - Saturday, 5-7 May, is the largest gathering of Chief Executive Officers (CEO's) and Chairpersons in Europe, and will represent many of the leading companies from their respective regions. The Summit will focus on the impact of global issues on the corporate sector while captains of industry are expected to engage with President Mbeki on the role of NEPAD in fight against poverty and underdevelopment in Africa.

Issued by Ronnie Mamoepa on 082 990 4853.

Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
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4 May 2005



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