Pope John Paul II met British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Saturday. During a 30-minute private audience, the Pope urged Blair to avoid creating "new divisions in the world." In a statement after the meeting the Vatican called for the stand-off over Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction to be resolved through the United Nations in order "to avert the tragedy of a war that is judged to be still avoidable by more sides." Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said: "The Holy Father expressed hope that, in solving the grave situation in Iraq, every effort is made to avoid new divisions in the world." The statement said: "Special consideration was given to the humanitarian situation of the Iraqi people, already tried greatly by long years of embargo." Blair, who is an Anglican, shook the Pope's hand and sat next to him during their talk. Faced with strong opposition in Britain to US-led military action in Iraq, he was the latest of several world leaders to visit the Pope to discuss the crisis. Last week the Pope granted an audience to Iraq's deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, who is a Christian. Following the meeting, which was held in the Pope's private library, the Pope met Tony Blair's wife Cherie, a practicing Catholic, and three of the Blair's four children -- Euan, 19; Kathryn, 15; and Leo, 3.
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