BAGHDAD (AP) – Pope Francis has arrived in Iraq to urge the country’s dwindling number of Christians to stay put and help rebuild the country after years of war and persecution, brushing aside the coronavirus pandemic and security concerns.
Iraqis are keen to welcome him and the global attention his visit will bring. Iraq’s foreign minister described the visit as a historic meeting between the “minaret and the bells,” saying Iraqis were eager to welcome Francis’ “message of peace and tolerance.”
Francis’ plane touched down at Baghdad’s airport just before 2 p.m. local time (1100 GMT).
A red carpet was rolled out on the tarmac and Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi was on hand to greet him.