Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pope Francis, in their brief meeting on October 30 in the Vatican, discussed the global impact of the COVID-19 crisis, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement.
The Pope lauded New Delhi's efforts in assisting other countries across the world in the fight against the pandemic, the MEA said.
"During today’s meeting, the two leaders discussed the Covid-19 pandemic and its consequences for people across the world. They also discussed the challenge posed by climate change," it noted.
"Prime Minister briefed the Pope about the ambitious initiatives taken by India in combating climate change as well as India's success in administering one billion COVID-19 vaccination doses. His Holiness appreciated India’s assistance to countries in need during the pandemic," the statement further said.
Modi also extended an invitation to Pope Francis to visit India at an early date, "which was accepted with pleasure", the MEA added.
This was the first meeting between an Indian prime minister and the Pope in more than two decades.
In June 2000, the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had last visited the Vatican and met the then Pope, John Paul II.
India and The Holy See have friendly relations dating back to the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1948. India is home to the second-largest Catholic population in Asia.Notably, PM Modi is in Rome on an official visit to attend the two-day G20 leaders' meet that is being held on October 30-31. He met his Italian counterpart Mario Draghi on the sidelines of the summit earlier in the day.