Pope Francis to visit Chile in 2016

SANTIAGO - Pope Francis will visit Chile in 2016, the South American country confirmed Wednesday, after a meeting in Rome between its foreign minister and his Vatican counterpart.

The confirmation follows comments by the pope during a January visit to the Philippines, where he said he planned to travel to Chile, Argentina and Uruguay in 2016.

Chilean Foreign Minister Heraldo Munoz and Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin "spoke about a trip that His Holiness will make to Chile next year," the foreign ministry said, without specifying a date.

Munoz and Parolin also discussed President Michelle Bachelet's trip to the Vatican in June, when she will meet the pope.

John Paul II was the first pope to visit Chile, traveling to the country in 1987, during Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship.

In July, Francis will visit Bolivia, Paraguay and Ecuador in what will be his second trip to South America since he was elected pope in March 2013, taking over from Benedict XVI.

His first trip to South America was in July that year, when he travelled to Brazil for World Youth Day, a major Catholic festival.