Pope receives Aznar of Spain and Khatami of Iran

 The following declaration by the Holy See Press Office Director, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, was released yesterday afternoon concerning the visit to the Holy Father by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and by Seyyed Mohammad Reza Khatami, vice president of Iran's Islamic Consultative Assembly: "This morning, February 27 2003, the Holy Father received in a private audience Jose Maria Aznar, prime minister of Spain who afterwards met with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of state, who received him together with Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, secretary for Relations with States. "In this cordial conversation, which lasted a half hour, they agreed that the situation that has been created in Iraq is serious and that there must be a solution. The Holy Father hopes that all parties involved - without exception - will make just decisions and undertake peaceful initiatives that are efficacious and that conform to justice, inspired by international law and ethical principles. "The head of the Spanish government explained the path of action followed up to now by Spain in the face of the Iraqi crisis, illustrating, in particular, the danger of terrorism and, therefore, the need for a common action on the part of the United Nations Organization. On these matters a convergence of positions with the Holy See was noted. And lastly, they examined several aspects of the European reality, with particular attention to the Constitutional Treaty of the European Union. "In the late morning His Holiness received Seyyed Mohammad Reza Khatami, vice president of the Islamic Consultative Assembly of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Afterwards he was received by Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano and by Archbishop Tauran of Relations for States. "The talks allowed for an exchange of opinions on the need to safeguard peace in the Middle East region. On this very serious subject, Vice President Khatami brought a message from President Mohamad Khatami to the Holy Father. There was then a productive dialogue concerning the living conditions and activities of the Catholic communities in the country." Source: Vatican Information Service

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