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He was the first layman and non-Italian at the head of this office.After John Paul II’s death he wanted to leave, but Benedict XVI asked him to stay. On 11 July 2006, he resigned, and was replaced then by Rev. Federico Lombardi. John Paul II entrusted him with many responsible diplomatic tasks, e.g. in 1988 he went to Moscow with a letter from John Paul II to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and in 1997 to Havana, where was discussing with Fidel Castro details of the historical papal pilgrimage to Cuba. As a representative of the Vatican Joaquin Navarro – Valls participated also in international conferences of the United Nations.