Holy Father Receives Iraqi Kurdish Leader

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 14, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI received in audience the president of the Iraqi autonomous region of Kurdistan, in the context of a series of meetings and interventions to foster stability in the country.

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Masoud Barzani, who in the past has shared the governance of the Kurdish region with the new Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani, is a leading voice of his community. On occasion Barzani has said he favors independence. He met the Pope today.

Since the Gulf War, the Kurds, who represent one-sixth of Iraq’s 26 million inhabitants, have enjoyed considerable autonomy in three northern provinces.

Last Thursday, the Holy Father received President Talabani, and on Saturday he met with the Synod of Chaldean Bishops, of Iraq, at a gathering in which he encouraged them to follow “the path toward reconciliation and peace.”

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