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Vatican offers to mediate in Najaf

The Vatican has offered to mediate between the Iraqi and American troops and the fundamentalist supporters of Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr who have been fighting in the Iraqi city of Najaf since 5 August.

Catholic News Agency reports that Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano has said that the Pope has never declined a request to act as a mediator.

"For their part," he said "(Iraqis) have to give up the use of violence because these killings have really been a dishonour to this noble people."

Sodano also said all forces should "respect the holy character of the city. Therefore, the appeal that I make in the name of the pope is that there is a return in any case to honest talks".

The cleric's representative in the city of Nasiriyah, in the south of Iraq, Aws al-Khafaji, told Italian news that the city's provisional council had asked the Vatican to send an envoy to help resolve the conflict in Najaf. They have also asked the Italian government to send a team to help with the negotiations.

Vatican offers to mediate in Najaf (Catholic News Agency 16/8/04)

Syria Becoming Haven for Iraqi Christians (Associated Press/ 11/8/04)
Vatican ready to mediate in Najaf (Catholic World News 16/8/04)
Iraqi Christians leave their country en masse after deadly church attacks (AFP/Yahoo 15/8/04)
Sodano: "The Holy See is ready to act as mediator in Najaf" ( 16/8/04)
Battle in Najaf overshadows National Conference in Baghdad ( 16/8/04)

17 Aug 2004