Pope Francis to address UAE's Islamic Council to improve relations between Christians and Muslims

Pope Francis has been invited to address the United Arab Emirates' Islamic council in efforts to improve relations between Christians and Muslims.

A series of talks, attended by the UAE's Muslim Council of Elders, have been organised to build bridges between the two religions. Vatican officials suggested the pontiff could be invited to speak at the next round of talks which will take place in either Cairo or the Vatican.

Pope Francis exchanges gifts with Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb, Egyptian Imam of al-Azhar Mosque, at the Vatican on May 23, 2016Reuters

Dr Ali Al Nuaimi, chairman of the UAE Islamic council said there was a desire from the Holy See to "correct the image of Islam and Muslims in Christian society".

He suggested this was seen when the pope welcomed Dr Ahmed El Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, to the Vatican.

Francis was photographed embracing the senior Islamic cleric before speaking privately to him in his office.

"Usually the pope does not receive any guest in his office on his own. He always has the cardinal and other officials seated on the side," said Al Nuaimi. The gesture of hospitality was accompanied by the pope awarding the grand imam with the medal of peace. "These things would not have happened two years ago," said Al Nuaimi.

The latest round of inter-faith talks were held in Paris and was attended by Sunni and Shia Muslims as well as Vatican representatives.

After the talks the faith leaders visited the Bataclan theatre and a nearby cafe, both targets of the terror attacks last November.

El Tayyeblaid a wreath and a prayed for the victims of the terror attacks. He wrote a note alongside his bouquet that read:

"O people of every faith, nationality, race, colour and language: I have come here to announce to you all in the name of Islam that the blood of all human beings should be protected," he wrote.

"I and all Muslims experienced great pain for every drop of bloodshed here – and anywhere," he said. "And we should all, East and West, stand together against the killers of those victims.

"And we have great hope that the free French – peaceful, lively people – will be able to overcome this tragedy. And we ask Allah to protect you and us from all evil," he concluded.