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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 December 2006, 20:07 GMT
Israeli PM meets Pope at Vatican
Pope Benedict (r) with Israeli PM Ehud Olmert (l)
Mr Olmert invited Pope Benedict to visit Israel soon
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has asked Pope Benedict XVI to urge Christians to protest against Holocaust denials, Mr Olmert's spokesman said.

The two had talks in the Vatican a day after the Iranian authorities hosted a conference questioning the Holocaust.

Mr Olmert also invited the Pope to visit Israel and Benedict said he planned to go when the situation was calmer, an Israeli official said.

Israel and the Vatican established diplomatic relations in the 1990s.

"The prime minister asked the Pope to talk about the Holocaust denial conference and not just to stop with a statement," said Mr Olmert's spokesman Miri Eisin.

Long meeting

The Vatican issued a statement on Tuesday criticising the conference hosted by Iran that questioned the Holocaust.

After their meeting, which lasted for about 30 minutes instead of the 10 which had been expected, Mr Olmert said Benedict would like to visit the Holy Land.

"The timing will be determined at a later date," Mr Olmert said.

Pope John Paul II visited Israel in 2000, after the two states established ties.

Pope Benedict and Mr Olmert talked about Middle East peace issues, the situation of Catholics in Israel and access to Christian sites, a Vatican statement said.

The two also discussed negotiations between the Vatican and Israel on property belonging to the Roman Catholic Church and taxation.

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