VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis has cancelled his upcoming trip to Dubai for the COP28 climate talks after advice from doctors concerned about his recent flu-like symptoms, the Vatican said Tuesday.
The 86-year-old, who has made protecting the environment a cornerstone of his 10-year papacy, planned to become the first pontiff to attend the UN event since the process began in 1995.
"Although the Holy Father's general clinical picture has improved with regard to his flu-like condition and inflammation of the respiratory tract, doctors have asked the Pope not to make the trip planned for the coming days to Dubai," Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement.
"Pope Francis accepted the doctors' request with great regret and the trip is therefore cancelled," Bruni said.
He added that the pope still wished to be part of discussions in Dubai and the ways in which this would happen would be defined soon.
At a Vatican press briefing on the trip earlier in the day, Bruni had said the pope would be attending.
Francis, who has suffered a series of health issues in recent years, had cancelled events on Saturday due to what the Vatican called "light flu symptoms".
It said a CT scan ruled out "risks of pulmonary complications".
The pope had also recited the traditional Angelus prayer on Sunday from his residence rather than overlooking St Peter's Square.
In Dubai, Francis was expected to use the platform to castigate countries for a lack of action on climate change, and seek to persuade them to dramatically cut their greenhouse gas emissions.
He was also expected to play a role in rebuilding trust between climate-vulnerable nations and rich, consumerism-driven polluters.
The leader of 1.3 billion Catholics, more than half of whom live in the developing world, Francis has long insisted on the link between climate change and poverty, with the world's most marginalized paying the highest price for global warming. — Agence France-Presse