The subject:

One of the themes of discussion was how the moderate voices in all the world’s major religions need to stand up to religious extremism in all its forms."

He said that Mr Blair, who is Anglican, "underscored that the Roman Catholic Church is a very important partner in the dialogue".

The spokesman said they also discussed Africa "at some length" and China, where the communist government does not allow the local Church to recognise the Pope.

After the private part of the audience, the Pope met Mr Blair’s wife, Cherie, who is Roman Catholic, the Vatican said.

The Prime Minister later continued his official talks with the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano.

Before leaving the Vatican, the Blairs paid their respects at the tomb of the late Pope John Paul, who died on April 2, 2005.

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