HAVANA TIMES, March 26 — The Vatican today denied that Pope Benedict XVI has plans to receive Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who arrived in Havana on Saturday for radiation treatment, reported the Infolatam.com website.
“It was a surprise. I just found out now that he would be in Cuba,” said Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi at a press conference. The representative denied all reports of a possible meeting between the leaders, though this had been announced in the official Venezuelan media.
Pope Ratzinger will meet officially with Cuban President Raul Castro on Tuesday and he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of meeting with Fidel Castro as well, but he declined to receive any of the political opposition groups on the island or the leaders of Afro-Cuban religions.