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Germany

Pope to Meet Muslim Leaders in Cologne

Pope Benedict XVI will meet Muslim leaders during a four-day visit to Cologne, Germany, for the Catholic World Youth Day celebrations next month, according to an official program released by the Vatican on Wednesday. The 78-year-old pope will hold talks with representatives from several Muslim communities at the archbishop's residence in Cologne on August 20, shortly after an audience with German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, opposition leader Angela Merkel and other political figures. The Vatican had previously announced that the pontiff, making the first foreign visit of his pontificate, would visit Cologne's synagogue and address the local Jewish community on August 19. The leader of the world's estimated 1.2 billion Catholics began his pontificate in April by saying the Catholic Church wanted to continue "building bridges of friendship" with all other religions. Benedict XVI will visit his native Germany from August 18-21.

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