The last time a pope shook hands with an Iranian leader

January 26, 2016 5:11 PM

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The last time a pope shook hands with an Iranian leader

On Tuesday morning, Pope Francis welcomed Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to the Vatican — a historic act that seems to herald the return of Iran to the international stage and a new embrace by Western institutions. However, it isn't the first time that an Iranian political leader has visited the center of the Catholic Church in recent memory.

In 1999, Pope John Paul II met with then-Iranian President Mohammad Khatami at the Vatican. It was the first encounter between the head of the Catholic Church and an Iranian leader since the revolution that had turned Iran into an Islamic republic. While the Vatican had not broken off diplomatic rel...

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