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Papal envoy Cardinal Matteo Zuppi to visit Washington to talk Ukraine peace

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Italian Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, tasked by Pope Francis to help bring peace to Ukraine, was heading to Washington on Monday to meet US officials as a follow up to his talks in Kyiv and Moscow, the Vatican said.

A statement said he would be there for three days but did not say who he would be meeting.

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The visit is aimed at promoting peace in Ukraine and supporting “humanitarian initiatives to alleviate the suffering of people who have been hit the hardest and the most fragile, in particular children,” the statement said.

Last month, Zuppi visited Moscow, where he met with the head of Russia’s influential Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, and with Russia’s Children’s Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova.

Earlier in June, he visited Kyiv and met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Zelenskyy, who met the pope in May, has asked the Vatican to back his unconditional peace plan, which calls for restoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity, the withdrawal of Russian troops and cessation of hostilities, and the restoration of Ukraine’s state borders.

The Vatican statement’s mention of humanitarian initiatives and children appeared to be a reference to Kyiv’s request -- and the Vatican’s willingness -- to help with the repatriation of Ukrainian children.

Kyiv estimates nearly 19,500 children have been taken to Russia or Russian-occupied Crimea since February 2022, in what it condemns as illegal deportations.

Zuppi said earlier this month that he was working on a “mecha-nism” that could ensure the return of the children.

Read more: Kremlin ‘welcomes’ Vatican peace efforts over Ukraine

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