Cairo, April 28 (IANS/AKI) Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on Friday praised Pope Francis for promoting the values of peace and tolerance, saying he was a spiritual leader for "people of various faiths".
"We appreciate the views of Pope Francis based on peace, tolerance and coexistence among peoples," Sisi said during a meeting with the pontiff in Cairo aired by Egyptian state television.
"These positions deserve admiration and respect."
Francis is "a spiritual leader for people of various faiths" and "a dear guest," Sisi said, recalling that the papal visit came on the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Egypt and the Vatican.
Sisi called Egypt "an incubator of cultural and religious diversity," recalling that in the Bible, Mary and Joseph fled there with the infant Jesus to save him from being slain by King Herod.
Islamist terrorism and the fight against it has cost Egypt a heavy price in human lives, Sisi said, claiming his country was "at the forefront" of the fight against the scourge and would "wipe it out".
"The true Islam never orders Muslims to kill but works for peace and tolerance," he said.
Before his two-day visit - the first papal trip to Cairo since John Paul II's in 2000 - Francis said he was travelling as a "messenger of peace".
The visit is aimed at improving Christian-Muslim dialogue and reaching out to Egypt's Christian minority, three weeks after bombings at two Coptic churches killed 47 people.