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Pope spells out Mideast peace wish list


Meeting the new Israeli ambassador to the Holy See yesterday, Pope John Paul II voiced his approval for the renewed peace talks in the Middle East but expressed continued concern over the status of Christians in the Holy Land.

He called the renewed talks "a positive sign of hope and an encouragement."

Repeating the message that he had delivered to the entire Vatican diplomatic corps in January, the Pope said that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could only be resolved by the creation of "two independent and sovereign states."

He said: "It is essential that both parties give clear signs of their determined commitment to bring this peaceful coexistence about."

The Pope listed key issues that must be addressed during the latest round of peace talks, including the status of Palestinian refugees, the Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, the boundaries between the two states, and access to the city of Jerusalem and the holy places of all the world's religions.

The Pope insisted that negotiations offer the only realistic means of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and observed that violence has merely exacerbated the problems.

"Therefore," he said, "just as violence and terror can never be an acceptable means for making political statements, neither can retaliation ever lead to a just and lasting peace."

SOURCE
Catholic World News


3 Jun 2003