papa franjo.jpg

Pope Francis landed in the Mexican capital late Friday for his first visit to the predominantly Catholic country.

To the sound of mariachi musicians, the pontiff was met at the airport by President Enrique Pena Nieto and his wife Angelica Rivera, accompanied by several officials, and traditional dancers.

Children in traditional costume presented the pope with a casket containing earth from the country's 32 states, which he blessed.

In a now familiar breach of protocol, Francis left the red carpet to greet and bless a children's choir and other singers gathered to welcome him, and briefly donned a broad-brimmed black mariachi hat.

He also approached stands where around 5,000 members of the public cheered him.

After 30 minutes of greetings, including more official ones with bishops and government representatives, he left the airport in an open popemobile under heavy police guard, while thousands of people lined the route to the city.

"Francis, brother, you are Mexican," many chanted, while others waved banners saying "the whole world loves you," or "you are a missionary."

The pope was scheduled to hold his first Mexican mass Saturday in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in northern Mexico City, before receiving the keys to the city in a ceremony later in the day.

His tour was to last until Wednesday, and to take in six cities in four states. The pope has spoken out against the high rates of crime and poverty in the country.

Latest news

Ukraine's famed ex-prisoner Savchenko meets inmates in rebel region

Nadiya Savchenko, a military pilot who became the most famous prisoner of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, met Ukrainian prisoners in the separatist region of Donetsk, according to local media reports on Saturday.

Economy minister: IPO of minority interest in HEP still good model for INA buyout

Croatian Economy Minister Martina Dalic of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) on Saturday commented on possible models for buying out Hungarian oil and gas company MOL's stake in the Croatian oil and gas company INA, repeating that "an initial public offering of a minority interest in the HEP power company is practicable and a good model that preserves the company while ensuring a number of advantages and benefits for Croatian citizens."

Afghan envoy warns against unnecessary travel to Pakistan

The Afghan ambassador to Pakistan on Saturday advised Afghan nationals to avoid unnecessary travel to Pakistan even after the border between the two countries is reopened.

Rival militias agree on ceasefire after deadly clashes in Tripoli

Warring militias in the Libyan capital Tripoli reached a ceasefire agreement, after two days of fighting left nine people dead, the Libyan News Agency reported Saturday.

Thousands attend Robert Mugabe's 93rd birthday celebrations

President Robert Mugabe, the world's oldest head of state, marked his 93rd birthday with lavish celebrations in Zimbabwe on Saturday, despite a deepening economic crisis in the southern African country.

Germany's Merkel picked as party's top candidate for September polls

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was nominated on Saturday as her party's top candidate for the September 24 elections.

Stickers reading "Serbian Family Tree" appear in Vukovar

Stickers reading "Serbian Family Tree" with the image of people hanging from a tree and the face of Ante Pavelic, Croatian fascist dictator who led the Ustasha movement and the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), appeared at bus stations along Trpinjska Street in the eastern Croatian town of Vukovar on Friday.

Turkish ruling party launches campaign for constitutional changes

Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Saturday formally launched its campaign for the upcoming referendum on core constitutional changes set to empower the presidency, with a mass rally at a sports arena in Ankara.

Top US general visits Syrian Kurds with focus on al-Raqqa campaign

A top US general visited Syrian Kurdish forces and their allies in northern Syria this week, amid signs the US military was increasing its support for anti-Islamic State forces, despite risks that such a move could anger neighbouring Turkey. 

Germany expects long-term migration growth after revising estimates

Net migration to Germany is expected to be 200,000 annually in the coming years, according to a news report to be published Sunday.

Malaysian police seek to reassure public over VX nerve agent

Malaysian police said on Saturday they would do everything possible to ensure there was no risk to the public from the lethal VX nerve agent used to kill Kim Jong Nam in the country's main international airport.

Cretu says Croatia must accelerate apsorbtion of European funds

The Commissioner also said that for the 2014-2020 period, Croatia would have twice the amount from the previous period at its disposal -- a total of EUR 10.67 billion.