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President Volodymyr Zelensky meets Pope Francis in Italy on June 14, 2024. (President of Ukraine)
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President Volodymyr Zelensky met Pope Francis on the sidelines of the Group of Seven (G7) summit in Italy on June 14, and discussed topics including establishing a just and lasting peace for Ukraine and the return of Ukrainian children abducted by Russia.

Zelensky previously met Pope Francis in May 2023 during a visit to the Vatican, where they spoke for over half an hour.

On the sidelines of the G7 summit, Zelensky thanked the Pope "for his prayers for peace in Ukraine, spiritual closeness to our people, and humanitarian aid to Ukrainians."

Zelensky said he "informed the Pope about the consequences of Russian aggression, its air terror, and the difficult energy situation" and discussed "the Holy See's role in establishing a just and lasting peace," as well as expectations of the upcoming peace summit in Switzerland.

Pope Francis was criticized in March by leaders including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and NATO General Jens Stoltenberg for calling on Ukraine to "not be ashamed to negotiate" with Russia.

In an interview with Swiss broadcaster RSI, Pope Francis said that Ukraine should have the "courage" to negotiate peace with Russia and raise the "white flag."

President Volodymyr Zelensky responded in his nightly address on March 10 without mentioning the Pope directly, saying that Russia is "not moving further into Europe only because they are being held back by Ukrainians with weapons in their hands and under the blue and yellow flag."

The Vatican responded on March 11 that Russia should take the first steps toward negotiations with Ukraine, and that the Pope's call was to "create the conditions for a diplomatic solution in search of a just and lasting peace."

Explainer: What is the global peace summit in Switzerland, and what does Ukraine hope to achieve?
Well into the third year of Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukraine is looking to strengthen international support for its peace plan at the upcoming global peace summit on June 15-16. While Russia has not been invited to the summit and has dismissed Ukraine’s plan outright, so far 107 countries

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6:52 PM

Ukraine's GDP grew by more than 4% in 6 months.

"Due to the high adaptability to difficult conditions and experience in responding to such challenges, the Ukrainian economy continued to grow" in June, said Economy Minister Yulia Svyrydenko.
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