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Cardinal Sodano meets US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano has met his US counterpart Condoleezza Rice in a 45 minute "cordial" encounter that included discussion of religious freedom, the Holy Land, the Middle East, and Asia.

Ms Rice passed on best wishes for the Holy Father's quick recovery, according to Vatican press office director Joaquin Navarro said Cardinal Sodano, who said Cardinal Sodano "extended the Holy Father's greetings to the guest asking her to convey them to President Bush as well."

"The two then exchanged opinions on various relevant international topics, especially concerning the Holy Land, the Middle East and other Asian countries," the statement read. "Attention was also given to the issue of religious freedom in various parts of the world as well as bilateral relations. Both sides reaffirmed their intention to work together to protect and promote spiritual values".

Rice had visited with Israeli and Palestinian officials earlier this week in an effort to move forward their peace talks. The two officials also spent some time in discussing the question of religious freedom-- an issue on which the US and Vatican hope to work together.

Ms Rice and Cardinal Sodano were accompanied by their aides, Beth Jones, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, and Brent Hardt, chargé d'affaires, for the US Secretary of State, and Mgr Giovanni Lajolo, Secretary for Relations with other States, and his deputy, Mgr Pietro Parolin for the Vatican Secretary of State

In his remarks, Cardinal Sodano noted how youthful the US delegation was and asked Ms Rice "how is this hall compared to the others you have seen." "Not bad! she said jokingly, adding that "it was always an honour to come to the Vatican".

Condoleezza Rice and Cardinal Sodano discuss the Middle East and religious freedom ( 8/2/05)
Cardinal Sodano meets US Secretary of State (Catholic World News 8/2/05)

Vatican Secretariat of State | Travel to Europe and the Middle East
US Department of State

Colin Powell to attempt relations patch with Vatican (CathNews 30/5/03)
Vatican official says peace efforts should intensify (CathNews 7/12/01)

U.S. Secretary of State discusses Middle East, religious freedom with Vatican officials (Catholic News Agency 8/2/05)
Cardinal Sodano welcomes U.S. Secretary of State Rice (Vatican Information Service 8/2/05)

9 Feb 2005