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19 April, 2001
The government on Wednesday confirmed that Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis will also meet with Pope John Paul II during the latter's historic visit to Greece early next month.
A government spokesman made the statement during a regular press briefing, where he added that John Paul II's itinerary is being set in consultation with the Autocephalus Orthodox Church of Greece.
According to an unofficial itinerary released by the Vatican's representatives in Greece on Tuesday, the Polish-born Pope will arrive in Athens on the morning of May 4 aboard an Alitalia flight, with a small welcoming ceremony to be held at the airport.
Afterwards, he will be officially received at the presidential mansion before arriving at the Athens Archdiocese. Several other events are scheduled as well, including a pilgrimage to a spot beneath the Acropolis where the Apostle Paul preached to the ancient Athenians and a service at an indoor Athens stadium for the country's tiny Roman Catholic community.
The Pope was invited to the predominately Greek Orthodox country by President Kostis Stephanopoulos, and after the Vatican had publicly aired the pontiff's long-standing desire to visit Athens as part of a retracing of the Apostle Paul's journeys in Europe.
John Paul II's two-day trip will be the first by a Roman Catholic leader to the Modern Greek state. The Orthodox and Catholic churches split in 1054 after centuries of often-contentious relations.
Source: Athens News Agency