President Duda to pay visit to Vatican, Italy next week

Polish President Andrzej Duda will pay a visit to the Holy See and Italy next week. This will be Duda's first foreign visit since being sworn in for a second term in August.

During the September 23-24 official visit, Duda will be received in audience by Pope Francis. He will also meet Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

Krzysztof Szczerski, head of the President's Office, told PAP on Monday that the visit to the Vatican and also to Italy was initially planned for May but was put off due to the coronavirus epidemic.

Szczerski said that choosing Rome as the destination of his first foreign visit the president "wants to emphasise Poland's and Poles' solidarity with the Italian nation so hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic." The minister added that the president's visit to Italy "offers an opportunity to honour all those who have lost their lives due to the coronavirus, and to congratulate the persistence and unwavering spirit of the Italian people."

While in Italy, Duda will meet with President Sergio Mattarella, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Senate Speaker Maria Elisabetta Alberti Casellati.

The talks, according to Szczerski, are to cover the pandemic situation in both countries and Europe, mechanisms of cooperation for similar situations in the future, as well as bilateral political and economic cooperation and security policy in Europe.

On Friday, September 25, Duda will pay a visit to the Vatican. The visit is connected with the 100th anniversary of the birth of John Paul II. The president will meet with Pope Francis and lay flowers on the tomb of St. John Paul II.