Paraguay's President Mario Abdo Benítez Friday paid a visit to the Argentina-born Pope Francis in Vatican City. The encounter, held at 10.30 local time, lasted 20 minutes during which both leaders discussed the fight against poverty and the overcoming of inequalities, in addition to the challenges facing the Abdo administration regarding climate change in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Francis gave Abdo a majolica tile with the image of a statue of St. Peter blessing on the dome of the Basilica in the Vatican, together with some volumes of papal documents, such as this year's Message for Peace, the document on human fraternity and the book on the Statio Orbis, dated March 27, 2020.
In return, he received a basket with typical Paraguayan food products such as chipitas (cheese bread pastries) and yerba mate, as well as a thermos and a guampa (mate cup).
It was the second private audience between the Paraguayan head of state and the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires since Abdo became President. The first one was in August 2018. Abdo had also been at the Vatican in August 2022 when Paraguayan Bishop Adalberto Martínez was created a Cardinal but he did not meet personally with Jorge Mario Bergoglio on that occasion.
Abdo began his Italian tour on Thursday by meeting with President Sergio Mattarella at the Quirinal Palace to discuss bilateral cooperation against transnational organized crime.
The President's entourage includes the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Julio Arriola; First Lady Silvana Abdo and other members of his family, whose expenses are covered by the head of state and not by the Paraguayan Government.