Violence erupts in Rome as Pope entertains far right leader
Italian police release tear gas on demonstrators protesting about Austrian far right leader Joerg Haider's visit to the Vatican.
The confrontation has taken place at the end of a broad avenue leading to St Peter's Square during the lighting of a Christmas tree given to the Vatican by the Austrian region where Mr Haider is governor.
Several thousand demonstrators from leftist organisations tried to push their way up the avenue toward the square, some firing Roman candles at police. Police held them at bay with volleys of tear gas.
The confrontation took place about 500 metres from the square, but the ceremony went ahead undisturbed, with Mr Haider sitting in a place of honour near the tree.
Pope John Paul II did not attend the tree-lighting ceremony, but earlier in the day Mr Haider and his 250-person delegation from the Carinthia region had an audience with the Pope.
Security for Mr Haider's visit, which has provoked a storm of protest from Jewish organisations and leftist politicians, has been intense.