Israel apologises over cancelled Vatican meeting

Israel has apologised over the last minute cancellation of a high-level meeting with the Vatican, which was trumped by an Arab League conference and a visit by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Israel's ambassador says.

AsiaNews reports that the Israeli ambassador says that a new date for the plenary is being worked out and reassured Catholics that the Israeli decision not to attend this week's expected plenary in the Vatican did not mean negotiations were off or show any lack of respect for the host delegation.

The absence was "only" due to factors related to the "current international situation", he said.

Mr Ben Hur told AsiaNews that "the reason for the postponement of the plenary meeting of the Permanent Bilateral Working Commission relates to new circumstances in the Middle East, which required the presence of the director general of Israel's Foreign Minister.

The Arab League conference in Riyadh and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's trip to the Middle east prevented him from leaving."

Following the cancellation of the meeting, "the director general (who is also the head of the Israeli delegation in talks with the Vatican) sent a letter to the Secretary of State of the Holy See, explaining the political circumstances that forced him to stay in Israel and expressing his apologies for delaying the Vatican meeting."

In a press release, the Holy See yesterday voiced its "regrets" for the cancelled meeting, and expects that a new date for the plenary will be set "very soon".

Ambassador Ben Hur expressed his "disappointment" for what he said are misunderstandings.

Israel reassures Catholics after meeting with Vatican cancelled (AsiaNews, 29/3/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

"Incredulity" at Israel cancellation of Vatican meeting (CathNews, 28/3/07)
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30 Mar 2007