Vatican Aide Suggests a Path to Deal With Mideast Strife

Cardinal Tauran Urges Efforts at International Level

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NEW YORK, MAY 9, 2004 ( Solving the crisis in Iraq and the Middle East requires a return to the realm of international law, says Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran.

The former Vatican secretary for relations with states, and currently the archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church, was in New York to receive an honorary doctorate and to attend several debates on the international situation.

“As could be foreseen, it is much more difficult to manage the postwar period than the war itself,” the cardinal said.

“Now it is a question of fostering a return to normality, to sovereignty, trying to give the Iraqi people the possibility to express themselves on their future and, therefore, to restore to international law and to the international community the role that corresponds to them,” he explained.

In statements on Vatican Radio, Cardinal Tauran also commented about the reports of U.S. soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners.

“They are deplorable events,” he said. “It must be recalled, moreover, that there is a ‘jus in bello’ [law in war] which does not allow to do just anything in times of war.”

“What is important is to remember the dignity of the person,” the cardinal observed. “The Geneva Conventions exist which give the essential references to solve these problems. What is true is that the picture has a great impact on Arab public opinion and now it is possible to fear reactions that are not always moderate.”

“Much prudence is needed now and, obviously, it is necessary to punish those responsible for this mistreatment,” he said.

To restore the sovereignty of the Iraqi people, Cardinal Tauran suggested “giving all the components of Iraqi society the possibility to express themselves and the international community the opportunity to support a process of internal dialogue in Iraqi society.”

He added that the “lack of a solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is the mother of all the crises.”

“Once this crisis is resolved, the rest will be resolved,” he said. “It is a problem of international justice, which must be resolved in keeping with the dictates of international law and the United Nations resolution. It is necessary to return to international legality.”

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