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Armenia visit to follow Pope's Kazakhstan trip

Pope John Paul II will travel to Armenia from 25-27 September, to celebrate the 1700th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the country.

With this anniversary in mind, the Holy Father referred last February to the "history of suffering" of the Armenian people that has constantly included "the component of martyrdom". He spoke about their history of "fidelity and courage", especially during the "many years of the totalitarian regime".

At the time, the Pope was encouraging the Armenian-Catholic Church to "offer its decisive contribution" in order to "continue with vigor on the path of the ecumenical dialogue".

Before visiting Armenia the Pope will go to central Asian republic of Kazakhstan, from 22-25 September.

John Paul II was unable to visit Armenia in 1999, as he had planned, because Patriarch Karekin fell gravely ill.

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow is reportedly considering attending the consecration ceremony of the cathedral at which the Pope will preside. Alexy has steadfastly refused to meet John Paul II.