Vatican City, December 3 - The Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Msgr. Miguel Angel Ayuso, met Tuesday in Cairo with a senior scholar specializing in the Sunni Islam faith, said a Vatican spokesman. Ayuso met for 45 minutes with Abbas Shouman, the second-highest official with Al Azhar University, a world-renowned center of religious research of Sunni Islam, emphasizing the strong relationship between the pontifical council and the Islamic university, said Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi. The meeting was positive and encouraging, said Lombardi. "The result is a willingness to resume...dialogue and collaboration," he added. The Vatican has worked to mend fences with the university that suspended relations after the former Pope Benedict said in late 2011 that Christians were the world's most persecuted religious group. Benedict's comments came after a year of incidents including a bombing in Alexandria, Egypt in early 2011 where 23 Copts were killed.