Audience With Israeli Official Focuses on Peace

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 11, 2003 ( The path to peace in the Holy Land was the focus of the audience John Paul II gave to Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Silvan Shalom.

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Following his meeting today with the Pope, Shalom met with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano in the presence of Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, the new Vatican secretary for relations with states.

“In the talks, the [two] sides expressed their point of view on the path that must be followed to attain peace in the Holy Land,” Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls said later.

“In particular, stress was put on the need to come out of the present situation, as well as the need for concrete acts of reconciliation on the part of all,” he said.

Discussions touched on issues that affect the life of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land, including the “commitments adopted with the Fundamental Agreement of 1993,” said Navarro-Valls.

On Nov. 16, John Paul II condemned terrorism, on the eve of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s visit to Rome. The Pope also said the “Holy Land does not need walls but bridges” in reference to the barrier being built by the Israelis, which has been condemned by the international community.

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