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Pope arrives in Cuba for three-day visit

The Pope was welcomed by Cuban President Raul Castro, who told him that his country favours complete religious freedom.

Pope Benedict XVI walks with Cuba's President Raul Castro
Pope Benedict XVI walks with Cuba's President Raul Castro
Image: AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa

POPE BENEDICT XVI has touched down in Cuba for a three-day visit.

On his arrival he met Cuban President Raul Castro, who told him that his country favours complete religious freedom. In his welcome address, Castro said  that Cuba has good relations with all religious institutions.

Benedict arrived today in Santiago de Cuba on a special Alitalia flight that flew Cuban and Vatican flags from the cockpit as it taxied along the airport tarmac.

In an address, the Pope said that he has “heartfelt affection” for all Cubans, on the island and in exile.

The BBC reports that it is the first papal visit to the island for 14 years, and was partly inspired by a sanctuary near Santiago de Cuba that is home to an icon of the country’s patron saint.

The visit comes after the Pope visited Mexico, where he was pictured wearing a traditional sombrero.

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- Additional reporting AP

Read: Pope in a sombrero pic of the day>

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