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Last Updated: Monday, 25 April 2005, 14:14 GMT 15:14 UK
Anglican leaders greet new Pope
Pectoral cross given to Pope Benedict
Dr Williams gave the Pope a pectoral cross as a present
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has led Anglican representatives in the Vatican in a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI.

Dr Williams' meeting with the pontiff, during which he gave a pectoral cross as a present, was brief but "very cordial", his spokesman said.

The meeting was part of the Pope's general audience with members of other Christian denominations and faiths.

The event is one of a series aimed at promoting unity among churches.

It was the first time that Dr Williams had met the new Pope, whom he greeted in German.

His visit has been seen as a sign of improving relations between the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches.

Previously the issues of gay marriage and women priests have strained relations between them.

Anglican priests said his decision to attend the inauguration is just the first step to resolving past differences.

During his visit to Rome, Dr Williams will also preach at two services, the Eucharist in the Anglican church of All Saints and a service of Vespers for the Community of Sant Egidio, at the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastavere.

My thoughts go out to all men and women of today, to believers and non-believers alike
Pope Benedict XVI

A Church of England spokesman said: "This is an important meeting that underlines the good relationship that exists between the Anglican church and Roman Catholic church at both national and local levels.

"We see it as continuing to develop the growing relationship that has existed for more than 40 years."

The 78-year-old German Pope began his stewardship of the Roman Catholic Church on Sunday by appealing for Christian unity.

In his inauguration sermon at St Peter's Basilica he said: "Let us do all we can to pursue the path toward the unity".

"Like a wave gathering force, my thoughts go out to all men and women of today, to believers and non-believers alike," he said to the crowd of 350,000 people gathered for the open-air service .

Speaking of the challenge ahead of him, the Pope said his primary role was not to present a programme of governance to the Church and to pursue his own ideas, but to listen to the will of God and be guided by it.

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