Following the meeting at 4pm yesterday between the Holy Father and United States President George Bush, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, Holy See Press Office director, made the following statement: "Yesterday afternoon, May 28, the Holy Father received the president of the United States, George W. Bush and his entourage. "The Pope wanted to thank President Bush for the deference he showed in coming to meet him on a day that had already been filled with many commitments and before he returned to the U.S.A. The president recalled the cordial visit that he and his family had last July with the Pope at Castelgandolfo and also told the Holy Father of the results of the (NATO) meeting at Pratica di Mare, as well as reviewing several current problems. "During the audience with the Pope, the Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, and Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran (secretary for Relations with States) held a meeting with the American Secretary of State, Colin Powell. "In this meeting they spoke of the most urgent international problems, including the Middle East situation. In addition to the political aspects, they also took into consideration the humanitarian aspects of the dramatic situation being experienced by both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples. They also focussed on the difficult situation of Christians in the Middle East. "The Pope again expressed his closeness to the American people, following the events of last September 11. "Lastly, His Holiness wished to express, despite the difficulties of the moment, his faith in the spiritual resources of American Catholics who are committed to witnessing to the Gospel values in society." source: Vatican Information Service
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