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Pope Francis leads the weekly general audience in Saint Peters Square, Vatican City, March 2, 2016.
Ettore Ferrari—EPA

Pope Francis is set to visit Pakistan this year after accepting an invitation from the country’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, according to the Pakistani government.

News of the visit was confirmed by the Vatican on Wednesday, the Dawn newspaper reported.

The invitation was reportedly passed on by Sardar Yusuf, Pakistan’s minister for religious affairs and Kamran Michael, the ports and shipping minister, during a meeting with the Pope in Rome as part of a high-level delegation.

The head of the Catholic Church also offered prayers for the South Asian nation and its citizens who have been killed by terrorism.

Christians make up about 1.6% of Muslim-majority Pakistan’s population, and have been targeted in the past, particularly under the country’s controversial blasphemy laws.


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