The Vatican will sign an agreement with the Palestinian Authority on the status of Catholic churches in Jerusalem - an indication it recognises Palestinian claims to the contested city, a Palestinian official said on Sunday.
   The agreement will be signed today, when Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat meets Pope John Paul II at the Vatican, Arafat adviser Nabil Abourdeneh said.
   PLO and Vatican representatives began negotiating the deal two years ago in Jerusalem, shortly after Israel and the Holy See signed an agreement to place Catholic institutions in Israel and east Jerusalem under Israeli jurisdiction.
   The Palestinians were concerned that the agreement implied recognition of Israeli claims to the disputed sector, captured and annexed by Israel in 1967 but claimed by the Palestinians as the capital of a future state. Israel claims the whole city as its eternal capital.
AP 15/2/00

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