Pope Benedict and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah held a historic meeting on Tuesday and discussed the need for greater collaboration between Christians, Muslims and Jews and prospects for a Middle East peace.
At the first meeting between a Pope and a Saudi monarch the two called for "a just solution to the conflicts that afflict the region, in particular the Israeli-Palestinian (conflict)".
A Vatican statement said it was a "cordial meeting that allowed them to touch on topics close to their hearts".
"In particular they renewed their commitment to inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue, aimed at peace and fruitful cohabitation among men and people, and the value of collaboration between Christians, Muslims and Jews for the promotion of peace, justice and spiritual and moral values, especially in support of the family," the statement said.
The Vatican also expressed "the hope for prosperity for all the people of Saudi Arabia" and made a special reference to the "positive and hardworking presence of the Christians in the kingdom".
Muslims around the world protested last year after Benedict, speaking at a university in his native Germany, cited a quote from Byzantine emperor Manuel Paleologus that associated Islam with being "spread by the sword".
The Pope later said he was misunderstood and has several times expressed esteem for Muslims.
At the end of the meeting, the king gave the Pope a gold and silver sword studded with precious jewels, in keeping with a bedouin custom the Saudis also follow when foreign leaders visit their country.
King Abdullah, the custodian of Islam's holiest sites in the cities of Mecca and Medina, also presented Benedict with a small silver and gold statue depicting a palm tree and a man riding a camel and accepted a 16th-century engraving of the Vatican from the pope.
They spoke for about 30 minutes in the Pontiff's private study with the help of interpreters in what both the Vatican and reporters described as a cordial atmosphere.
The Vatican does not have diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia.
King Abdullah's stay in Rome is the third leg of a European tour that will also take him to Germany and Turkey. He arrived in Rome late Monday following visits to Geneva and London.