Vatican Meets With Muslims to Set Summit
Leaders aim to mend rift created by pope's inflammatory speech
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2008 12:50 PM CST
In this photo released by the Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano newspaper, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, left, and Pope Benedict XVI, are photographed during a meeting at the Vatican, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2007....   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Leaders from the Muslim world met with Vatican officials today to begin preparations for this summer's landmark Catholic-Islamic summit. Pope Benedict XVI will participate in the talks in an effort by the two religions to reconcile differences aggravated by a 2006 speech by the pontiff that offended many Muslims, reports the BBC.

Benedict's quotation of a medieval Christian theologian who characterized some of Muhammad's teachings as "evil and inhuman" provoked an interfaith storm. Benedict has since expressed "regret" but hasn't apologized. More than 200 Islamic scholars have called on the pope to participate in talks. Today's pre-summit meeting included Muslim leaders from Italy, Turkey, Great Britain, Jordan, and Libya.