The deputy of Al-Azhar's grand imam in Egypt said on Sunday the top Muslim cleric will bear a message of tolerance when he meets Pope Francis in Rome.

Monday's meeting will be the first between the leader of the world's Catholics and one of Islam's most important clerics.

Abbas Shuman, deputy to grand imam Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, told AFP on Sunday that Francis's gestures towards Muslims encouraged Tayeb to meet the pope after falling out with his predecessor Benedict XVI.

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