Obama to meet with Orthodox patriarch

US President Barack Obama intends to meet with Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios, the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians, next month and will invite the holy man to visit the White House later this year. Obama revealed his plans when he met with Archbishop Demetrios, the head of the Greek Church in America, in Washington on Wednesday. Obama hosted Demetrios and some 200 Greek officials and Greek Americans at the White House to mark Greek Independence Day. The US president said the United States and Greece are bound by struggles and shared democratic ideals. «America’s revolutionaries imagined a new system of government, but they drew upon an ancient precedent.» Obama said he would meet Vartholomaios in Istanbul on April 7 during a visit to Turkey and as part of wider talks with leaders of many faiths. However, the US president is also due to hold a one-on-one meeting with the patriarch in the White House on November 3. For his part, Demetrios urged Obama to tackle three key issues that concern Greece and the Greek-American community: the rights of the ecumenical patriarch in Turkey, finding a solution to the division of Cyprus and helping to resolve the dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) over the latter’s name. «Following the brilliant example of Alexander the Great, you will be able to cut the Gordian knot of these unresolved issues and, by so doing, enhance peace and reconciliation among the peoples included and involved,» Demetrios told the US president. «I will tell Michelle I have been compared to Alexander the Great,» responded Obama in reference to his wife. «I will see if that gets me a little more respect… She’s still the boss.»

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