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Friday, 14 February, 2003, 13:41 GMT
Pope tells Iraq to respect UN
Tariq Aziz meets Pope John Paul
The Pope met Tariq Aziz for 30 minutes
Pope John Paul II has urged Iraq to "faithfully respect" UN resolutions on disarmament during talks at the Vatican with Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz.

While the Pope repeated his opposition to war with Iraq, a Vatican statement released after the 30 minute audience urged Baghdad in strong terms to co-operate with UN weapons inspectors.

The Pope "insisted on the necessity on Iraq to faithfully respect and give concrete commitments to resolutions of the UN Security Council, which is the guarantor of international law," the statement said.

Mr Aziz, a Christian, brought a letter to the Pope from President Saddam Hussein, replying to a message delivered by a Papal envoy earlier this week.

Tariq Aziz's motorcade enters the Vatican
Aziz received the red carpet treatment

He received red carpet treatment at the Vatican for his fourth visit there since the end of the 1991 Gulf War, entering by the gate normally reserved for heads of state in a motorcade of 10 limousines.

After being greeted by Vatican officials, he was accompanied to the Papal apartments, where he went straight into talks with Pope John Paul in his private study.

He then held talks with the Vatican's secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, and its foreign minister, Monsignor Jean-Louis Tauran.

The Vatican statement said that Mr Aziz had wanted to give his assurances about "the wish of the Iraqi government to co-operate with the international community, notably on disarmament".

Pope's opposition

The Pope has made it clear in recent public statements that he is utterly opposed to the planned American war against Iraq.

Tariq Aziz, Iraqi Deputy PM
Aziz is a member of Iraq's Christian minority

But so far Papal diplomacy has carried little weight in Washington.

A leading American Catholic theologian was in Rome earlier this week, trying to communicate the Bush administration's justification for war to the Vatican.

But the Pope's advisors found his arguments unconvincing, says the BBC's Rome correspondent David Willey.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Frances Kennedy
"The pope has been an outspoken advocate for peace"
Tariq Aziz, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister
"There has been no serious violation"

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13 Feb 03 | Middle East
13 Feb 03 | Middle East
13 Feb 03 | Middle East
12 Feb 03 | Middle East
13 Feb 03 | Politics
13 Feb 03 | Middle East
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