Pope Francis with the flag of Lebanon at a general audience at the Vatican, Sept. 2, 2020. / Vatican Media.

Rome Newsroom, Apr 5, 2022 / 09:00 am (CNA).

The president of Lebanon said on Tuesday that Pope Francis will visit the Middle Eastern country in June, as long as a date and program are coordinated by the authorities of Lebanon and the Vatican.

Writing on Twitter on April 5, President Michel Aoun said he was informed of the visit by the papal nuncio to Lebanon.

“The Lebanese are awaiting the visit of Pope Francis to express their gratitude for His Holiness’ interest in Lebanon and to thank him for the initiatives he took towards their country and the prayers he offered to establish peace and stability in it,” Aoun, a Maronite Catholic, wrote in another post.

Local media reported that a papal visit to Lebanon is expected on June 12.

Pope Francis has expressed his desire to travel to the Middle Eastern country on several occasions.

During an in-flight press conference returning from Malta on April 3, Pope Francis said he would like to meet with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and that the Middle East was being considered as the location for the encounter.

Plans for a second meeting between Pope Francis and the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church in June or July 2022 have been underway for several months.

Pope Francis received Aoun at the Vatican on March 21, as Lebanon continues to reel from multiple crises.

In recent years, Lebanon has grappled with an influx of refugees from the war in Syria, a devastating financial crisis, a lack of stable governance, and the impact of COVID-19.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is also threatening to trigger a food crisis in Lebanon, which depends on wheat imports from the East European nation.