.- Iraqi President Jalal Talabani met in a private audience with Pope Benedict XVI last week and, the next day, capped his weeklong stay in Italy with a 90-minute visit to the tomb of Pope John Paul II.
According to a report by AFP, Talabani also made a brief visit to the Vatican museums and Sistine Chapel.
During their meeting Thursday, Talabani and the Pope discussed the Church’s concerns about religious freedom and reconstruction in Iraq.
Two days earlier, Talabani asked the Italian government to keep its troops in Iraq until the end of 2006. He warned of a "catastrophe" if international forces were to suddenly withdraw, reported the AFP.