Holy Father Pope Francis has met with the commander-in-chief of Myanmar’s  Armed Forces during the first day of his Apostolic visit to the country. Following the courtesy visit, which lasted 15 minutes, the pair exchanged gifts, His Holiness Pope Francis held talks with Senior General Min Aung Hlaing at the Archbishop of Yangon’s  residence shortly after his arrival in Myanmar.

As reported by en.radiovaticana.va, The Director of Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke remarked that “They discussed the great responsibility of authorities of the country in this time of transition.” Holy Father Pope Francis presented Min Aung Hlaing with a commemorative medal of his visit and in return received a harp in the shape of a boat and an ornate rice bowl.

Last year, the United Nations officials called on Myanmar to end military operations that have led to the systematic violation and abuse of human rights of minorities in the country’s Rakhine state but the army has denied accusations of wrongdoing by security forces.