CWN - Pope Francis met on March 16 with Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun, and reportedly promised to visit Lebanon.

An official Vatican statement indicated that the Pope had expressed his satisfaction at the end of a long political deadlock that had left the Lebanese presidency vacant for months, and voiced his hope that cooperation among the country’s different ethnic and religious groups would continue to improve.

The Pope also expressed his gratitude to Lebanon for providing shelter for hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syrian. He spoke with Aoun about the prospects for ending that conflict.

After the meeting, Aoun reported that the Pope had told him: “I will visit Lebanon.” (The official Vatican statement did not mention a papal visit.) The Lebanese leader underlined the importance of a papal trip to his country, saying:

The Eastern Christians today live difficult circumstances, in a region that is the cradle of Christianity and Islam, we see in this visit a glimmer of hope that confirms that Lebanon will always remain as the strongest hope for the future of the East and the world