President Nikos Christodoulides is to travel to Rome to visit Pope Francis on Friday.

Christodoulides will be received in the Vatican City by the Swiss Guard, before holding a private meeting with the Pope, and then a subsequent meeting in the presence of the Cypriot delegation.

Government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis said “the President’s visit to the Holy See takes place on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Cyprus and the Holy See.”

He added that Christodoulides will “convey the Cypriot people’s appreciation to the Holy See regarding the charitable work of the Roman Catholic Church throughout the world.”

He will also tell the Pope “about the efforts made by our side to restart talks on the Cyprus problem and the need to appoint a Unted Nations envoy”.

In addition, Letymbiotis said Christodoulides “will inform His Holiness about the initiative … regarding the creation of a humanitarian corridor” between Cyprus and Gaza.

While in Rome, Christodoulides will also meet the Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta John T Dunlap, a Catholic lay religious order which is considered a sovereign entity under international law.

Christodoulides, Dunlap, and the Cypriot delegation will have a meal together before his return to Cyprus.

His trip to Rome will follow a trip to Serbia, where he will travel on Wednesday.

It is expected that the Cypriot and Serbian governments will sign memoranda of understanding in the fields of education, science, innovation and advanced technologies.