Holy See Promotes U.N.'s Return to Stabilize Iraq

Vatican Official Talks of His Visit With British Leaders

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ROME, MAY 18, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See is hoping the United Nations returns to Iraq, to help stabilize the country and pave the way for democratic institutions, a Vatican official said.

That was among the messages that Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, Vatican secretary for relations with states, delivered during his meetings May 11-13 with British officials, including Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

«It was very important for me to hear directly the British government’s version on the situation in Iraq,» Archbishop Lajolo told Vatican Radio.

«I had the opportunity to emphasize that the Holy See wants to see as soon as possible a United Nations resolution on the transfer of power in Iraq,» he said.

The Vatican official said he also assured the British that the Holy See «encourages the return of the United Nations to Iraq, with the hope that it will receive a strong mandate to be able to carry out its vital role in the pacification of the country and in the creation of democratic institutions in the nation.»

In his meeting with Chancellor Gordon Brown, Archbishop Lajolo expressed his support of the British initiative known as the International Finance Facility, which would provide aid for development until 2015.

«Other rich countries will be able to adhere to this initiative in favor of Africa and other areas of the world,» the archbishop said.

«The Millennium Development Goals foresee, among other things, the reduction by 50% of the number of people who live under the poverty line before 2015,» he added. «At the present pace, this and other objectives will not be reached and the poor countries might lose faith in our capacity and will to help them.»

The archbishop noted that he dined, in Lambeth Palace, with the Anglican archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. «Dr. and Mrs. Williams were exquisite hosts and I am very grateful to them,» he said.

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