The Muslim world on Thursday expressed hopes for better ties with the Vatican under new Pope Francis, after years of strained relations with Benedict XVI who was seen as hostile to Islam.

The 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's highest seat of learning, came out with similar statements expressing this sentiment as they welcomed the Argentine's election.

OIC chief Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, in a letter of congratulations, said he hoped "the relationship between Islam and Christianity will regain its cordiality and sincere friendship" under the new head of the Roman Catholic Church.

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