Pope and Britain's Gordon Brown discuss world economic crisis

Vatican City - Pope Benedict XVI and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown met Thursday for talks that focused on the global economic crisis, the Vatican said in a statement.

Benedict, spiritual leader of the world's 1.1 billion Roman Catholics, received Brown, the son of a Protestant Presbyterian minister, for a private audience at the Vatican.

"Cordial conversations" also dealt with the "duty to pursue initiatives benefiting the less-developed countries, and to foster co-operation on projects of human promotion, respect for the environment and sustainable development," the statement said.

Without providing further details, the statement also said the two leaders discussed ongoing conflicts, particularly in the Middle East as well as "several bilateral themes... of interest above all for the Catholic community in the United Kingdom."

In an unusual move, the Vatican's official newspaper L'Osservatore Romano published a front-page article penned by Brown, ahead of the meeting.

"Religious values, such as justice and solidarity - values affirming that poor and rich children alike must have access to vaccines and medicines," were shared by Britain and the Holy See, Brown wrote.

Brown also referred to Britain's hosting of the Group of 20 (G20) summit on April 2 in London which will group together leaders from the world's richest nations and those from emerging economies.

The G20 could approve proposals that could inject "billions of dollars into the economies of developing countries," Brown wrote.

The British Prime Minister was also scheduled to meet his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi later on Thursday. (dpa)