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South Sudanese president Salva Kiir will make his first official visit to the Vatican on Saturday, at the invitation of Pope Francis, the presidency announced.

The president’s spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny, Said on Thursday that President Kiir will hold official talks with the Pope.

Kiir is a Catholic who regularly attends services at the cathedral in the capital Juba.

The visit will include a private audience with Pope Francis and Kiir will invite him to South Sudan, said Ateny.

He pointed out that President Kiir’s trip would “deepen South Sudan-Vatican diplomatic relations”.

“The visit to the Vatican is fundamentally aimed at deepening relations and cooperation between South Sudan and the Vatican,” he said.

Ateny, who is also the presidential press secretary, said Kiir will brief Pope Francis on the implementation of the revitalised peace agreement.” Pope Francis wants to be briefed on the implementation of the peace agreement in South Sudan,” he said.

According to Ateny, President Kiir will stay in Vatican City for three days.

In 2017, the Vatican cancelled tentative plans for Pope Francis to make a visit to war-torn South Sudan. Francis had hoped to visit Africa’s youngest nation in a push for peace.

In November 2015, Pope Francis held a private meeting for 15 minutes with President Kiir at Uganda’s State House.

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