Pope Francis and German Chancellor Angela Merkel talk about Ukraine

(Photo: REUTERS/Maurizio Brambatti/pool)German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) exchanges gifts with Pope Francis during a private audience at the Vatican February 21, 2015.

Pope Francis has held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a private meeting in the Vatican in which they focussed on efforts to end Ukraine's bloody conflict.

The German leader had a 40-minute private audience with the head of the Catholic Church on Feb 21, after which she told reporters, "I was very happy to meet with the Pope" Deutsche Welle reported.

An official communiqué said the cordial exchange between the two leaders focused on the fight against poverty and international crises, including the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the Vatican reported.

Merkel played a key role in hammering out the latest shaky ceasefire and at the meeting with the pontiff, she stressed their "commitment to reaching a peaceful solution to the conflict in Ukraine," the Vatican statement said.

The German chancellor grew up in what was then East Germany and was the daughter of a Protestant church minister.

She has recently spoken of the "important" place of the Christian faith in her life, Agence France-Presse reported.

The talks with the Poe also touched on topics such as the alleviation of poverty, the role of women in developing countries, equality, and Germany's agenda for the upcoming summit of the G7 leading industrial nations in the southern German state of Bavaria in June.

Following the audience Merkel told journalists that the conflict in eastern Ukraine was at the center of the discussion with the Pope.

She reportedly said he gave her "a lot of encouragement" to proceed "decidedly and determinedly" to find a peaceful solution.

Germany currently chairs the G7 that consists of Germany, the United States, Canada, Japan, France, Italy and Britain.

Russia had been a member of what was called the G8, before it was left out of the group due to Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region on year ago.

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