Pope Francis has canceled his planned trip to Dubai for the United Nations climate summit, COP28, which opens Thursday, the Vatican announced Tuesday. The 86-year-old pope, who has made environmental protection a cornerstone of his 1995-year pontificate, was aiming to become the first pontiff to attend the UN summit since the process began in <>.

"Although the general state of the Holy Father's health has improved, regarding his flu-like symptoms and inflammation of the respiratory tract, doctors have asked the pope not to make the trip planned in the coming days to Dubai," Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement. "Pope Francis has accepted with great regret the doctors' request and the trip is therefore cancelled," the spokesman added.

Activities scheduled for Saturday already cancelled

He assured that the pope still wants to participate in the discussions in Dubai and that the modalities of this participation will soon be defined.

Pope Francis, who has suffered from a series of health problems in recent years, had canceled his planned activities on Saturday because of what the Vatican called "mild flu-like symptoms." A CT scan ruled out "the risk of pulmonary complications". The pope also said the traditional Angelus prayer on Sunday from his residence and not in St. Peter's Square.

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In Dubai, Francis was expected to point to the lack of action on climate change and seek to persuade countries to drastically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. It was also expected to play a role in rebuilding trust between nations vulnerable to climate change and wealthy, consumerist polluters.

At the head of a community of 1.3 billion Catholics, more than half of whom live in developing countries, the pope has long insisted on the link between climate change and poverty, while the world's poorest pay the highest price.

With AFP

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