Ahmadinejad considers meeting pope during upcoming Italian visit

Iran says it would consider a meeting between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Italian officials and the pope on an upcoming trip to Italy if they invited him. Ahmadinejad is planning to go to Rome for a world food summit Tuesday through Thursday. Italian media have reported Ahmadinejad asked to see Pope Benedict XVI. But neither the Vatican nor Iran has confirmed that request and the Pope is not expected to meet with any leaders traveling to Rome. Italy has said a meeting with Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi is also unlikely. Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini, asked Sunday whether Ahmadinejad plans to meet Italian government officials and the pope said: "If high ranking officials of that country plan to have a meeting, we can consider it."