Pope Francis met here Saturday with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and accepted his invitation to visit the Latin American country.

Peña Nieto made the announcement to reporters after the 25-minute sit-down with the pontiff, the former archbishop of Buenos Aires and the first Latin American to reach the papacy.

"The main purpose of my visit was to extend the pope - on behalf of Mexico - a friendly invitation to visit the country, which he has accepted. He told us he'll now have to look at the dates and find the right time," Peña Nieto said.

The pope, however, has said before that he will not return to Latin America until 2016 because he visited Brazil in July 2013 for World Youth Day activities.

The Mexican head of state said the pontiff told him he has a "special fondness for the Mexican people."

He told reporters that he informed the pope, who has said he wants a church that is "poor and for the poor," about his government's initiatives to promote the "social development of the least privileged sectors."

The two also discussed Mexico's efforts to combat poverty and assist Mexican emigrants, the president said.

Peña Nieto, who arrived at the Vatican Saturday from Portugal, attended Pope Francis' inauguration Mass in March 2013 but the two men had never before met face-to-face. EFE