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Report: Pope’s meeting with Myanmar army chief goes against diplomatic norm

  • Published at 02:15 pm November 28th, 2017
Report: Pope’s meeting with Myanmar army chief goes against diplomatic norm

Pope Francis’s meeting with the Myanmar army chief on Monday goes somewhat against usual diplomatic norm, as the pontiff was scheduled to have a one-one one meeting with the controversial general on Thursday morning, the last day of his trip, according to Vatican-based online outlet Crux.

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing paid a “courtesy call” to Pope Francis on Monday, a last minute inclusion in the Pope’s busy schedule, at the start of a highly sensitive trip, with the military man saying he told the pontiff there was "no religious discrimination" in his country despite allegations of ethnic cleansing, reports Reuters.

The 80-year-old pope, the first to travel to Myanmar, received Senior General Hlaing for a 15-minute meeting at the archbishop's residence in Yangon, where the pontiff is staying during his visit.

According to Crux, Pope Francis was originally scheduled for a free afternoon after his 11-hour overnight flight. However, following a strong recommendation from the head of the Myanmar Church, Francis gave the green light for the meeting.

The meeting was organised on the recommendation of the archbishop of Yangon, Charles Bo, who also advised the pope not to use the term "Rohingya" during his visit, for fear of inflaming tensions in the predominantly Buddhist country.

As quoted by Crux, Archbishop Bo said: “If the pope used the term, the army leadership could feel slighted and the fallout could be felt across the country, and perhaps especially by the tiny Christian minority.”

Francis on Tuesday did not mention the Rohingya minority when sharing a stage with Myanmar’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, in which he said the country was suffering from civil conflict and hostilities “that have lasted all too long and created deep divisions.”

Before delivering his speech on Tuesday, Francis spoke to interfaith leaders at the archbishop’s residence and separately met a prominent but controversial Buddhist leader.

His meeting with Buddhist monk Sitagu Sayadaw, who earlier this month at a religious sermon suggested that it was acceptable to kill non-Buddhists as all their lives, combined, amounted to that of only “one and a half real human beings,” was in an effort to encourage peace and fraternal coexistence as the only way ahead, reports Guardian.

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