VATICAN CITY, FEB. 7, 2003 ( In his meeting with John Paul II, foreign affairs minister of Germany, Joschika Fischer, spoke about the Iraqi crisis and the future European Constitution.

Fischer, current president of the U.N. Security Council, was received also by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano, and French Archbishop Jean Louis Tauran, Vatican Secretary for Relations with States.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls explained in a press statement that the German minister's visit "was a propitious occasion to exchange opinions on the problems of the present moment and, in particular, on the known crisis of Iraq and on the subject of the future European Constitutional Treaty."

"In regard to the situation in the Middle East, the position of the Holy See, expressed in numerous documents and interventions in favor of peace and of solutions that are respectful of international law, was confirmed to the illustrious guest. Also emphasized was the responsibility of all sides to avoid a tragic conflict," the statement continued.

"As regards the European Constitutional Treaty, the Holy See stated that the values and elements already introduced in the plan -- published yesterday and related to the first three articles of the treaty -- are fundamental for the life of the Union," the Vatican spokesman added.

"In this connection, surprise was expressed because the juridical status of Churches and religious communities has been disregarded. Lastly, the desire was expressed that the present plan be improved and the gaps filled," the press statement issued by Navarro-Valls concluded.

Fischer also noted in a press-conference that he was "very impressed" by his meeting with the Pope. We "share with the Holy See a profound unease about the humanitarian consequences for regional stability," he said, "as well as for the struggle against terrorism," that a military intervention against Iraq would cause.

Joschka Fischer coupled a peaceful solution to the crisis with respect for United Nations resolution 1441 by the Iraqi regime, and said that the Vatican supports this proposal.