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Pope urges Aziz to push for Iraqi commitment to disarm

Pope John Paul warned Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariz Aqiz of the disastrous consequences of war, urging him to push his country towards a commitment to disarm.

The Pope and and top Vatican diplomatic officials met with Aziz on Friday, seeking "concrete commitments" from Iraq with respect to UN disarmament resolutions.

Aziz, a Catholic of the Chaldean rite, met privately with the pontiff for about half an hour, then proceeded to a 45-minute meeting with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of state, and Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, the Vatican's equivalent of foreign minister.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said the meetings "allowed a broad exchange of views on the noted danger of an armed intervention in Iraq, which would add further grave sufferings for those populations which are already tried by long years of embargo."

In a statement, he said Aziz, who requested the meetings, assured the church leaders "of the Iraqi government's willingness to cooperate with the international community, particularly in regard to disarmament."

Catholic World News

Vatican Statement After Pope's Meeting with Tariq Aziz (Zenit)
Pope Meets Tarek Aziz; Vatican Diplomatic Effort Continues (Catholic World News)
At Assisi, Iraqi Envoy Publicly Prays for Peace (New York Times)
Pope urges Iraq to cooperate with UN (AP)
Iraq: Four Franciscan Families Present Today at Sacred Convent for Aziz Visit (Vidimus Dominum)
Behind Vatican walls, officials have little sympathy for Saddam (Catholic News Service)
Vatican urges Iraq to show "complete commitment" to UN weapons inspections (AP)

17 Feb 2003