Angela Merkel in Rome on farewell visit to Italy

Merkel to meet Pope Francis and Mario Draghi on her last official visit to Rome.

The outgoing German chancellor Angela Merkel is in Rome on Thursday as part of her series of 'farewell' visits to world leaders before stepping down as soon as the new coalition government is formed.

Merkel, who has led Europe's largest economy for 16 years, is visiting St Peter's before meeting Pope Francis in what will be her seventh encounter with the Argentine pontiff.

Following her meeting with the pope in the Apostolic Palace, Merkel will hold talks with the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, reports news agency ANSA.

After lunch with Italian premier Mario Draghi, Merkel will join Pope Francis at a meeting for peace, organised by the Community of S. Egidio, at the Colosseum.

Speaking after an EU-Western Balkans summit in Slovenia yesterday Merkel said: "I think we need an economically strong Italy and Mario Draghi has taken important steps to reach this goal".

Photo ANSA