|Vatican||POPE QUESTIONS SANCTIONS AGAINST IRAQ|
Pope John Paul has expressed concern about the effects of international sanctions against Iraq, implicitly criticising their impact on women, children and the elderly.
He said he wanted to assure all those Iraqis who were suffering because of the embargo that they were in his thoughts and prayers.
He was speaking during a visit to the Vatican by the head of the Chaldean Catholic church in Iraq Raphael Bidawid.
The Pope had hoped to visit Iraq during a tour of holy places in the Middle East, which begins this week.
But the Iraqi government turned him down, saying the sanctions made such a visit impossible.