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Pope meets Arafat in Vatican

Two days after Israeli troops withdrew from Bethlehem, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat met with Pope John Paul II to brief him on the most recent wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence.

"His Holiness, in expressing his condolences for the numerous victims of the unending spiral of violence, renewed his appeal that everyone abandon their weapons and return to negotiations," Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said after Tuesday's meeting.

The spokesman said Arafat came to the Vatican to inform the pope "about the worrying situation in the Palestinian territories with particular reference to the recent tragic events in which even Christian holy places were involved."