ROME (Kyodo) Pope Benedict XVI would be willing to meet with Prime Minister Taro Aso, a Catholic, if he requests it, Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See Dominique Mamberti said Thursday.

Aso could meet the pope during a planned visit to Italy in July to attend a Group of Eight summit.

The last meeting between a pope and a Japanese prime minister took place in 1999, when the late Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi met the late Pope John Paul II at the Vatican.

If a meeting of the pope and Aso is realized, they could discuss the pope’s possible visit to Japan, Mamberti told a group of reporters.

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