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Pope, Peres urge Mideast peace

'Accord respectful of legitimate aspirations,' leaders say

02 September, 14:48
Pope, Peres urge Mideast peace (ANSA) - Castel Gandolfo, September 2 - Israeli President Shimon Peres and Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday voiced the hope that the resumption of direct talks between the Israelis and Palestinians can lead to peace in the Middle East.

In a statement issued after their 40-minute talks, the two leaders said this week's talks in Washington might "help reach an accord respectful of the legitimate aspirations of the two peoples".

Benedict and Peres also spoke of the Catholic communities in the Holy Land and "the contribution they offer for society's welfare, also through Catholic schools".

As for a long-running negotiation on Catholic Church property, the pair voiced the hope that an accord can be "rapidly" reached.

Peres and the pope also examined interreligious issues and the global situation, the statement said.

Before his meeting with Benedict at the pope's summer residence here, Peres spoke to the Vatican's Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, for about half an hour on the same issues. In the traditional exchange of gifts, Peres gave the pope a silver menorah engraved with an inscription calling Benedict "the shepherd who is trying to lead us to the fields of blessing and peace".

The pope gave Peres a bronze copy of the first medallion to be set in the north colonnade of St Peter's in 1657.

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