YANGON, Myanmar – Pope Francis is scheduled to travel on Tuesday to Naypyidaw, the new capital of Myanmar, where the local government will officially welcome him on the second day of his visit to the Southeast Asian country.
In the capital, the pontiff will be received by President Htin Kyaw and will also meet the de facto leader of the government Aung San Suu Kyi. He will then also have a meeting with the diplomatic corps accredited in the country, before returning in the afternoon to Yangon.
Before traveling to the new capital, the Pope will hold an interfaith dialogue with local faith leaders in the archbishopric of Yangon, where he stays during his visit.
Pope Francis began his visit to Myanmar on Monday with a meeting with Myanmar Army chief General Min Aung Hlaing, architect of the military operations that caused hundreds of deaths and forced more than 620,000 Muslim-minority Rohingyas to flee to Bangladesh.
During the meeting, the pontiff expressed the need for the authorities to assume their responsibility during this period of ongoing political transition in the country, according to Vatican sources.
General Hlaing wrote on Facebook that in Myanmar “there is no religious discrimination” because “the country ensures religious freedom,” and that the Myanmar armed forces are “making efforts to restore and to ensure peace in the nation. Myanmar has no discrimination among the ethnics.”
The humanitarian crisis of the Rohingya plays a crucial role in Pope Francis’ visit to Myanmar. On Thursday he will head to neighboring Bangladesh in an attempt to mediate the crisis.