Pope Benedict met with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah for 30 minutes in the Pope's private study. It was the first such visit for a Saudi monarch. They sat across a wooden desk for the meeting and discussed relations between Christians and Muslims. There are no formal diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and the Vatican. The royal family rules by strict Sharia law. And Christians are not allowed to worship publicly there. Two of Islam's holiest sites are in Saudi Arabia — in Mecca and Medina. Last fall, Pope Benedict angered Muslims with a reference to the Prophet Muhammad bringing "evil and inhuman" things. He was quoting a 14th century Byzantine emperor. At the end of the meeting, King Abdullah gave Pope Benedict two gifts: a gold and silver sword studded with precious jewels — a customary gift in the Middle East from one head of state to another — and, a silver and gold statue of a palm tree and a man riding a camel. For his part, Pope Benedict offered his guest a 16th century print and a gold medal of his pontificate.
Pope, King Abdullah Meet at Vatican
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