Tony Blair meets Pope

British Prime Minister Tony Blair had an audience with Pope Benedict on Saturday. . Mr Blair, who will leave office on Wednesday, talked privately with the Holy Father for 25 minutes. They were then joined for more talks by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the archbishop of Westminster. In a statement released after the meeting, the Vatican said there had been a "frank" assessment of the international situation, including such "delicate" themes as the Middle East conflict and the future of the European Union.

The statement said that Blair has expressed the desire "to dedicate himself in a particular way to peace in the Middle East and to interreligious dialogue". The prime minister's wife, Cherie, and his staff, also met briefly with the Holy Father. Tony Blair last met with Pope Benedict in June 2006.

He met with Pope John Paul II in 2003. The visit to the Vatican has fuelled a good deal of media speculation as to what was said and whether Mr Blair is about to become a Catholic. But a Vatican press office statement described the audience as "a normal meeting between the Pope and a government leader." Number 10 Downing Street said it was not going to issue a statement on the visit.

Source: VIS