(ROME) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Pope Francis for the first time Monday, discussing initiatives for peace in Syria. The two world leaders exchanged gifts at the Vatican, with Putin giving the Pope an icon of a venerated Russian Orthodox Church image. Monday's historic meeting was the result of a letter Pope Francis wrote to Putin in September, in which he urged him to help stop the massacres in Syria.
The Pope pushed for concrete actions to bring peace to the war-torn country.
Outside the Vatican, protesters called for the release of an Italian environmental activist arrested in Russia. Greenpeace unfurled banners for the activist, who fought against off-shore drilling in the Arctic.
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