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Last Updated: Friday, 12 December, 2003, 23:33 GMT
Archbishop to visit Middle East
Dr Rowan Williams
The Archbishop will visit Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories
The Archbishop of Canterbury is to visit the Middle East next month, his office has announced.

Dr Rowan Williams accepted an invitation to go to the region from the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem.

The church leader is expected to travel to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories at the end of January, a spokeswoman said.

She said Dr Williams would visit churches and church and community projects during his pastoral trip.

Jerusalem is a holy city for Christians, Muslims and Jews, as well as being a political flashpoint in the current troubles.

Dr Williams has been a vocal opponent of a war against Iraq and joined other religious leaders to call for a "just, lasting and secure peace both in Iraq and throughout the Middle East", days after military action started.

Push on peace

Before being appointed to the Church of England's most senior post he questioned the "war on terror", denouncing military action in Afghanistan as "morally tainted".

His predecessor, Dr George Carey, visited the region twice in six months in 2002, in an effort to further the peace process.

He visited both Israeli and Palestinian territories, and in an earlier visit met both Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

A spokeswoman for Dr Williams said: "It is expected that Dr Williams will visit churches and church and community projects in Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories during the course of an extended pastoral visit at the end of January.

"The programme has not yet been finalised; further details will be announced in due course."




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