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VATICAN CITY (AP) _ Pope John Paul II accepted an invitation Thursday to visit Poland in August, his first trip back to his homeland since 1999.

Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski formally presented the invitation during a 30-minute Vatican meeting with John Paul.

``The pope has accepted,'' the president said, standing beside John Paul at the end of their talks. ``It will no doubt include Krakow,'' where the then Karol Wojtyla was serving as archbishop when his fellow cardinals elected him pope in 1978.

Kwasniewski didn't specify an exact date, but Polish media have suggested a trip is in the works for Aug. 16-18. It will John Paul's ninth trip to his Polish homeland since he assumed the papacy.

The pope is scheduled to visit Bulgaria in May and Canada, Mexico and Guatemala in July.

Trips to several other countries are also under consideration this year.

During his 1999 trip, John Paul came down with the flu and canceled a final Mass in Krakow, where a crowd of more than 1 million people had been awaiting him.