POPE RENEWS PLEA FOR JERUSALEM

VATICAN, Oct. 26, 00 (CWNews.com) -- As he met with a new ambassador
from Lebanon, Pope John Paul II renewed his appeal for "specially
guaranteed international status" for the city of Jerusalem.

In his remarks welcoming Fouad Aoun to the Vatican diplomatic corps, the
Holy Father observed that "Jerusalem should be a particularly strong symbol
of unity and peace and reconciliation for the whole human family." For that
reason, he continued, the current conflicts in Jerusalem are "particularly
disquieting." He suggested that the conflict between Israel and Palestine was
not likely to be resolved unless and until the status of Jerusalem is settled,
and that international guarantees would furnish a means of ending the
current stalemate on that issue.
 
Lebanon's new ambassador replied that his government would back the
suggestions of the Holy See, both in the drive for international guarantees on
Jerusalem and in "the search for a just and fair solution that will reward
right rather than force."

Ambassador Aoun went on to say that the climate in his country has become
more favorable to the peaceful cooperation of different peoples. And Pope
John Paul responded by insisting that all peoples should have equal rights to
participate in the political process. "The consolidation of confidence among
the ethnic and religious communities that make up the country is a
necessary condition for eliminating the fear of one another and for regaining
the taste for living together," he said.

He also pointedly remarked that Lebanon should be ruled by its own people,
and not subject to pressures from abroad-- a reference to the power Syria
has wielded over the Lebanese government in recent years.
 

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