Pope Asks for Solution to Palestinian Issue

Speaks With Lebanese Leader About Mideast Christians

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 31, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is advocating a safer situation for Christians in the Middle East and a «rapid and just» solution for the Palestinian question.

These two themes, and the identity of Lebanon, were among the topics of discussion today when the new Lebanese president, Michel Sleiman, visited the Pope at the Vatican.

The president also met with the Holy Father’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for relations with states.

During the «cordial discussions,» the Vatican press office reported, the Holy See’s interest in Lebanon and the nation’s «continuing determination to safeguard its particular identity» was reaffirmed.

The Pontiff expressed his appreciation for «the effort that the country and its leaders are making to redirect institutional life within the normal channels of political dialectic, in which every part of the Lebanese people can offer their contributions to the common good and see their own concerns and expectations duly taken into account.»

The two leaders spoke for about 25 minutes.

Sleiman offered the Pope the gift of an Arabic book with the texts of a Maronite synod from 1736. The Holy Father gifted the president with a pontifical medal.

Lebanon’s some 4 million inhabitants are about 60% Muslim and 39% Christian.

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