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In a first, pope to have day of private meetings with world leaders in Dubai

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is expected to attend.

VATICAN CITY, Nov 9 (Reuters) – Pope Francis will have nearly an entire day of bilateral meetings with world leaders attending the COP28 climate conference in Dubai next month, according to a programme released by the Vatican on Thursday.

It will be the first time in his papacy that the pope, 86, who is also a head of state, has so many high-level, one-on-one meetings with counterparts and others in such a short amount of time.

The pope’s position on climate change is well known, so the event will give him an opportunity to connect in person with Arab and other world leaders to discuss the wars in Gaza and Ukraine.

Francis will be in Dubai from Dec. 1-3. The conference runs from Nov. 30 – Dec. 12.

After giving his speech to the conference on the morning of Dec. 2, the pope will have two sessions of private meetings for the rest of the day.

Organisers in Dubai have not yet given a list of top-level attendees and the Vatican did not say which one-on-one meetings had been confirmed.

Buckingham Palace has said King Charles will give the opening address. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is expected to attend.