Chilean president meets head of Russian Orthodox Church

MOSCOW - Chilean President Ricardo Lagos, in a meeting with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II, on Thursday promised assistance in increasing the number of Russian church parishes in his country, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

"In accordance with new laws, all confessions in Chile are recognized as equal, and churches are separate from the state," Lagos was quoted as saying. His meeting with the patriarch was part of an official visit to the Russian capital.

Alexy said there are about 70,000 Orthodox adherents in Chile, although the largest part of them belong to the Antiochian church rather than the Russian church.

"However, there have been many requests for opening new parishes because the presence of Russian-speakers in Chile is groiwng," Alexy was quoted as saying.