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Pope, Egyptian president discuss Iraq, Iran


Pope Benedict XVI met Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to discuss the situation in the Middle East, tensions surrounding Iran's nuclear program and religious tolerance in Egypt, the Vatican said.

President Mubarak returned to Rome on 13 March specifically to meet the pope at the end of a series of visits with European leaders, including the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Catholic News Service reports.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said the pope and President Mubarak spent about half an hour together and began their meeting by discussing "the good relations between the Holy See and the Arab Republic of Egypt and the situation of inter-religious relations in the country."

The two spoke English and spent about 20 minutes together without aides present.

"The meeting allowed them to review themes relative to the prospects for a stable peace in the Middle East," Navarro-Valls said. "There was a profound exchange of ideas about the situation in Iraq and also a look at issues regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran."

Neither the Vatican nor the Egyptian government provided more information.

Throughout his European trip, Mubarak urged the European Union to continue giving financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority. He asked European leaders to help persuade Israel to recognise the authority's new Hamas leadership.

Hamas, he said, also must recognise Israel's right to exist and pledge to participate in the peace process.


SOURCE
Pope, Egyptian president discuss nuclear arms, religious tolerance (Catholic News Service 14/3/06)

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15 Mar 2006