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'God Bless Indonesia', Pope tells Megawati

The leader of the world's largest Muslim country had a brief private audience with Pope John Paul II on Monday.

The Holy Father received Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri in his study, using the traditional Indonesian greeting, "selemat datang".

Megawati offered the pope an oil painting from the Jakarta cathedral and received papal medals.

The Vatican did not give any details about the topics discussed at the 10-minute meeting.

"God bless Indonesia", John Paul II said during a brief photo session with the president. At the end of the meeting, Megawati introduced her husband and entourage to the Holy Father.

John Paul II visited Indonesia in 1989. The country has 228 million inhabitants, 88% of whom are Muslim.

The pope also received outgoing Colombian President Andres Pastrana earlier in the day, engaging in 10 minutes of conversation in Spanish with the politician.


12 Jun 2002