Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is expected to meet with the pope in November, a Vatican official said Monday.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the visit has not yet been announced officially, said Talabani was expected to meet Pope Benedict XVI on Nov. 10.
Separately, 18 Iraqi bishops are expected at the Vatican next week for a five-day meeting in a "top secret" location, the Italian news agency Apcom reported.
Possible topics to be discussed include how to handle Islamic fundamentalism in post-war Iraq, the news agency said.
Iraqi Christians number about 800,000, about 3 percent of the population. Most of them belong to the Chaldean Church, an Eastern-rite church that is loyal to the pope but does not follow the Roman church's Latin rite, AP reports.
An explosion of household gas occurred in a nine-storeyed apartment building in the city of Shakhty, the Rostov region of Russia. The blast destroyed two storeys of the building