Monarch, pope meet

ROME -- Pope Benedict XVI and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia clasped hands at the Vatican this week in the first official meeting between a pope and a Saudi monarch, who is entrusted to protect Mecca, the birthplace of Muhammad and the centre of the Islamic world.

The two met for half an hour in a conversation that a Vatican news release said had been cordial and had covered the "value of collaboration between Christians, Muslims and Jews. - Sapa