U.S. Official Thanks Church for Humanitarian Aid to Iraq

State Department Undersecretary Visits Vatican

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 9, 2003 (Zenit.org).- A top U.S. State Department official visited the Vatican and thanked the Church for its humanitarian aid in war-torn Iraq.

John Bolton, undersecretary of the U.S. government for arms control and international security, was received today by Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, Vatican secretary for relations with states, according to Vatican press office director Joaquín Navarro-Valls.

In a press statement, Navarro-Valls said that Bolton «explained the danger represented by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in various parts of the world.»

Regarding the military operation in Iraq, Bolton «repeated his government’s commitment to respect the ‘ius in bello,'» namely, the norms that must be followed in war, the Vatican spokesman said.

At the same time, Bolton said he appreciated «the availability of the Catholic Church to collaborate in the humanitarian field to alleviate the sufferings of the Iraqi people.»

Navarro-Valls said that Bolton also «made reference to what U.S. President George Bush recently affirmed in Belfast about the need for a rapid solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in order to give the entire Middle East region the possibility for peace.»

The last high-level contacts that the Vatican had with the Bush administration took place on the eve of the outbreak of war. Colin Powell telephoned Archbishop Tauran to say that the United States understood John Paul II’s concern over the conflict.

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