Vice-President of the United States met with a senior representative of the Russian Orthodox Church

On the morning of Thursday the representative of the higher clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church and an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin has met informally with the Vice-President Mike Pence (Mike Pence) and urged the U.S. to cooperate with Russia in fighting terrorism in the middle East.

Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), the Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, head of the Department for external Church relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, had a conversation with Penny on the sidelines of the world summit of Christian leaders in defense of persecuted Christians. The organizer of the summit is the Evangelical Association, under the presidency of Franklin Graham (Franklin Graham).

“Only one unified international anti-terrorist coalition to fight terrorism and to win, — said Metropolitan Hilarion in an interview with TIME in the Washington room at Trump International Hotel, located a few blocks from the White house on Pennsylvania Avenue. — Our two countries must put aside these political differences.”

The press Secretary the White house confirmed the meeting between the Pens with Metropolitan Hilarion said that the statements of the priest and reflect the opinion of the President of the trump. According to Metropolitan Hilarion, after talking with Penny, he “with great optimism” to estimate the future relationship between the US and Russia.

Last month, the White house accused the Russian authorities of concealing the involvement of the Syrian regime in the chemical attack, which killed dozens of residents of the city held by the rebels. In response to a chemical attack U.S. military strike on the Syrian airfield. Putin who supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, condemned the missile strike.

“The situation in Syria illustrates the different approaches of America and Russia, says Hilarion. — Any change in the political regime can be implemented once the terrorists are driven out of the country.”

Pence spoke at the summit on Thursday morning. He told the audience that the theme of violence against Christians is “current administration”. He also accused ISIS (a terrorist organization banned in Russia — approx. ed.) in “the genocide of the people professing Christianity.” According to Hilarion, he considers the performance of a Penny “exceptional” and hopes to return home to meet with Putin to discuss his conversation with Pence.

This informal conversation has been brewing for two years. At the end of 2015, when from war-torn Syria, an influx of refugees, Graham met with Hilarion in Moscow in the house of a priest. Sitting by the fireplace, they discussed the idea of holding an international conference to draw public attention to the problem of violence against Christians in the middle East — “the most acute problem of our time,” says Ilarion. During that visit, Graham met with Putin, who promised that he would do everything possible to help in their business.

Graham and Hilarion had planned to hold a summit in Moscow. But shortly after Donald trump was nominated as a presidential candidate from the Republican party, Graham at the suggestion of the Russian leadership moved the event to Washington.

The relationship between the American Evangelist and the Russian President has gradually strengthened amid rising tensions between the two countries and at a time when Russia is taking stringent measures restricting religious freedom. But, according to Graham, their President and Russia share a desire to protect Christians abroad. Putin says Graham considers himself a defender of “what is left of Christianity” in Syria, and Christians and other religious minorities are generally safe if they live in areas controlled by the Syrian authorities.

“Before, Christians around the world have defended America, says Graham. But we don’t do that anymore”.

Hilarion and Graham in addition to protecting Christians in the middle East brings together different matter. Both support Putin in his quest to carry out ultra-conservative policies (including decisive action against abortion and the recognition of the rights of sexual minorities) at a time of increased secularization in the West.

When Hilarion speaks at the summit on Thursday morning, he spoke out not only against the physical violence faced by some Christians, but against “the restrictions of citizens’ rights to public expression of their faith”, as well as the legalization of euthanasia and abortion in Western countries. He criticized the United States for their “ideology, aimed at supporting sexual minorities and the promotion of a homosexual life.” His words recalled the statements of Graham that in 2014, praised Putin’s position, defended the “children of his country from the harmful effects of the ideology of gays and lesbians” when in Russia ahead of the Olympics in Sochi was adopted a controversial law banning the promotion of homosexuality.

Not all the leaders of the Evangelical Christians welcome the idea of partnership with the Russian Orthodox Church and — more broadly — with the Russian authorities. Last summer in Russia, a law was passed restricting the activities of foreign missionary organizations. In April Russia’s Supreme Court banned religious organization “Jehovah’s Witnesses”. Then the US Commission on international religious freedom recommended for the first time to make Russia in a number of countries in which there are the most serious violations of freedom of religion. Even on Thursday, when he passed the Washington summit, the Russian blogger was convicted of inciting religious hatred due to the fact that playing Pokemon Go in one of the churches of Ekaterinburg.

“The assertion that they are the defenders of Christianity, is not true,” says a former member of Congress a Republican politician Michele Bachmann (Michele Bachmann). — This is unbelievable.” Putin’s regime is “a regime that is struggling with missionary work,” says Russell Moore (Russell Moore), head of the southern Baptist Convention in cooperation with public and political organizations.

The purpose of the organized Graham a four-day summit is to forge new partnerships, both religious and political. Led by the Graham international non-governmental humanitarian organization of Evangelical Christians Samaritan’s Purse (“Suma Samaritan”) and Evangelical Association of Billy Graham (Billy Graham) spent on the summit four million dollars by paying the airfare approximately 600 participants from 136 countries. The participants of the event were given gift bags with personalized iPads. Private VIP parties, for example, Hilarion, were given rooms in the hotel Trump International Hotel and not located in few blocks the Mayflower Hotel, where nearly all of the activities in the framework of the summit.

On Thursday SYEZD in addition to the Pens was made by the Republican Senator from Oklahoma, James Lankford (James Lankford). To participate in the summit in Washington came a few evangelists of trump’s advisors, among them Michele Bachmann, pastor of Orlando Paula white (Paula White) pastor of the Baptist Church Jack Graham (the namesake of Franklin Graham) and the President of the National conference of Hispanic Christians leaders Samuel Rodriguez (Sam Rodriguez). Staff Graham also agreed to hold meetings between individual participants and representatives of the state Department.

Hilarion welcomed the development of relations between Russia and the Evangelical Christians of the United States. “We will continue to work closely with the Evangelical Association of Billy Graham, as well as with other representatives of the community of Evangelical Christians of this country, he says. — We have a lot of allies.”