Pope Francis will visit Egypt for two days next month, the Vatican has announced.

The Holy See said the Pope was responding to invitations from President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt’s Catholic bishops, Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II and Ahmed al-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University.

The trip, on April 28-29, will be focused on Cairo, the capital city, the Vatican said.

It will be the Pope’s 18th trip abroad and the seventh to a Muslim-majority nation. He will be the second Pope to visit Egypt after Pope John Paul II went there in 2000.

The invitation came amid increasingly close relations between the Vatican and Al-Azhar, which is considered the most authoritative theological-academic institution of Sunni Islam. Al-Tayeb visited the Pope last May – it was the first time the grand imam of Al-Azhar had been received by the Pope in a private meeting at the Vatican.

The Pope later told reporters that in his 30-minute discussion with the grand imam, it was clear that “they are looking for peace, for encounter”.

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