Iranian Parliament Leader Meets Pope

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 11, 2002 ( Amid escalating violence in the Middle East, John Paul II received in audience the president of the Iranian Parliament, Ayatollah Mehdi Karrubi.

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The Holy Father spoke privately with Karrubi for 15 minutes on Saturday, and then received the rest of the 10-member Iranian delegation.

When his guests entered the room, the Pope stood up on his own and greeted them with a warm smile, saying: “You are all welcome.”

Ayatollah Karrubi, 65, a theologian and philosopher, gave the Pope a Persian rug to mark the occasion. The Iranian was ending a three-day visit to Rome, during which he also met Italian government leaders.

On Friday, at a meeting in the Italian Institute for Africa and the East, Karrubi said that cooperation and cultural exchanges are antidotes to prejudices and the resurgence of extremism.

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