Yemeni Leader Encouraged by Pope to Fight Terrorism

President Saleh Has Audience With John Paul II

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 26, 2004 ( John Paul II received Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in audience and encouraged him to combat terrorism and promote tolerance and understanding.

Saleh, in turn, thanked the Pope for his efforts in favor of coexistence among believers of various religions.

In his brief address today, delivered in English, the Holy Father said: «During this period of unrest in your region, I urge you and all men and women of good will to combat terrorism, striving for peace and justice.»

«This is only possible when people recognize the ongoing need for tolerance and mutual understanding,» he said.

«In this regard, I encourage you in your efforts to foster the spirit of frank and open dialogue between the different religions and peoples of the Arabian Peninsula,» the Pontiff added.

John Paul II assured the president of his prayers, that God will grant «all the Yemeni people the gifts of peace, harmony and reconciliation.»

The struggle against terrorism, as well as the situations in Iraq, Sudan and Somalia, were the main issues that President Saleh addressed in his meetings with Italian authorities during his visit to the country.

The majority of Yemen’s 20 million inhabitants are Muslim, although there are communities of Jews, Hindus and Christians. Catholics number some 5,000, mostly immigrants.

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