Pope Benedict met the President of Palestinian Authority Mr Mahmoud Abbas, on Friday. Mr Abbas also met with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of State, and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.
In a statement, the Vatican said: "A central issue of the cordial conversations was the troubled situation in the Holy Land. Particular stress was laid on the urgent need to find a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one capable of ensuring respect for the rights of all and, therefore, the attainment of the Palestinian people's legitimate aspirations for an independent State. It was thus reiterated that soon the State of Israel and the Palestinian State must live in security, at peace with their neighbors and within internationally recognized borders. In this framework, with the support of the international community and in a spirit of cooperation and openness to reconciliation, the Holy Land will come to know peace.
"Reference was also made in the meetings to the situation of the Christian communities in the Palestinian Territories and the Middle East in general, and mention was made of their irreplaceable contribution to the building up of society.
"Finally, the hope was expressed that the work of the delegations of the Holy See and the Palestine Liberation Organization may proceed fruitfully towards the elaboration of a comprehensive agreement between the parties".
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