Nay Pyi Taw, Nov 28: Pope Francis headed to Myanmar’s capital city of Nay Pyi Taw on Tuesday, where heads of the government will officially welcome him on the second day of his visit to the country.
In the capital, the pontiff will be received by President Htin Kyaw and will also meet de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, reports Efe news.
He will then also have a meeting with the diplomatic corps accredited in the country, before returning in the afternoon to Yangon where he had arrived on Monday.
Pope Francis began his visit to Myanmar on Monday with a meeting with Army Chief General Min Aung Hlaing, architect of the military operations that caused hundreds of deaths and forced more than 620,000 members of the Rohingya Muslim minority to flee to Bangladesh.
During the meeting, the pontiff expressed the need for the authorities to assume their responsibility during this period of ongoing political transition in the country, according to Vatican sources.
General Hlaing in a statement said that in Myanmar “there is no religious discrimination” because “the country ensures religious freedom”, and that the armed forces were “making efforts to restore and to ensure peace in the nation. Myanmar has no discrimination among the ethnics”.
The pope is also scheduled to attend a major Mass on Wednesday, after which he will hold a meeting with the Supreme Council of Myanmar’s Buddhist monks and another meeting with bishops.
The humanitarian crisis of the Rohingya plays a crucial role in Pope Francis’ visit to Myanmar.
On Thursday he will head to neighbouring Bangladesh in an attempt to mediate the crisis, which the UN has dubbed a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
The pontiff will become the first Catholic leader to visit Dhaka since 1986.
In Bangladesh, Francis is scheduled to meet a small group of Rohingya refugees in a symbolic gesture.