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Russian Orthodox leader, pope agree to disagree

MOSCOW (AP) — The Patriarch of Russia's Orthodox Church Alexy II says he and Pope John Paul II have agreed in principle to sign a key joint declaration — but disagree about what it should say.

The split came during talks on a possible papal visit to Russia, Alexy said in the interview with Russia's daily Segodnya.

"In the course of the discussions of the visit it was decided to sign a joint declaration," Alexy said.

Alexy said he wanted the churches to pledge to refrain from missionary activity on each other's territory and to not "encroach" on church property, a reference to a jurisdictional dispute in western Ukraine. The two issues have marred relations and held up talks on a visit for years.

"The pope did not agree to have these two points in the declaration," Alexy said.