VATICAN (QHA) - Russian President Vladimir Putin and Pope Francis met in the Vatican on Monday for one-on-one talks that focused on finding a peaceful solution to the ongoing civil war in Syria, reports RIA Novosti. During the Pope's "cordial and constructive" meeting with Putin, "special attention was given to the pursuit of peace in the Middle East and to the serious situation in Syria," said Vatican spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi. Putin’s spokesman said the one-on-one talks in the Apostolic Palace lasted twice as long as planned. Putin and the pontiff exchanged gifts, and the pope asked the Russian leader to send his regards to Patriarch Kirill, who heads the Russian Orthodox Church. As reported, after the audience, Putin had dinner with his old friend former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and held closed-door talks with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano at the Quirinale Palace. Putin will travel Tuesday to Trieste to meet with Italy’s Prime Minister Enrico Letta to discuss bilateral cooperation, and economic and international issues.