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Early this afternoon, Tuesday, May 28, 2002, the Holy Father received Mr. George W. Bush, the President of the United States, accompanied by his entourage.
The Pope wished to thank President Bush for his deference in coming to meet him, in a day already full of commitments before returning to the U.S.A. Recalling the cordial visit he made to Castel Gandolfo last July, together with his family, the President discussed with the Holy Father the results of the meeting in Pratica di Mare, informing him also on some current problems.
During the papal audience, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Secretary of State, and Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran had a conversation with the U.S. Secretary of State, Mr. Colin Powell.
During the said talks, a review was made of some of the most urgent international problems, among which was that of the Middle East. In addition to the political aspects, the humanitarian dimension of the tragic situation lived by the two peoples, Israeli and Palestinian, was taken into consideration. Reference was also made to the difficult situation of Christians in the Middle East.
The Pope again expressed his closeness to the American people, following the events of last September 11.
Lastly, despite the difficulties of the moment, His Holiness wished to express his confidence in the spiritual resources of American Catholics committed to witness evangelical values in society.
[Translation by ZENIT]