Outgoing Nicaraguan President Thanks Pope for Peace Initiatives

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 16, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Outgoing Nicaraguan President Arnoldo Alemán Lacayo bid farewell to John Paul II on Saturday in a private audience held in the papal office in the Vatican Library.

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«We thank you, Holy Father, for receiving us and giving us a message of peace and prosperity for our homeland,» the Central American executive told the Pope during their 10-minute meeting.

The Nicaraguan president was received later by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state.

The Holy Father, who was looking well and smiling, then greeted the 21 members of the presidential entourage that included first lady María Fernanda and Foreign Minister Francisco Aguirre.

Alemán gave the Pontiff an embossed Nicaraguan silver crucifix and a painting of Nicaragua´s patroness, and the Holy Father gave the president a bas-relief of the Annunciation.

Alemán will hand over the government of his country on Jan. 10 to President-elect Enrique Bolaños.

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