U.S. Secretary of State discusses Middle East, religious freedom with Vatican officials

.- During her first official diplomatic trip, new United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited yesterday with Vatican Secretary of State Angelo Sodano.

Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the Holy See’s Press Office Director, published a communiqué about the visit early this afternoon, Rome time.
It stated that on Tuesday, “Condoleezza Rice, U.S. secretary of State, accompanied by an official delegation, visited Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano who was accompanied by Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, secretary for Relations with States, Msgr. Pietro Parolin, under-secretary, and other officials from the Secretariat of State.”
The document called the meeting, which lasted for almost an hour, “cordial”, and said that, “Cardinal Sodano presented the Holy Father's greetings to his guest, asking her to pass them on to U.S. President Bush.”

In turn, Condoleezza Rice, in the name of President Bush, of the American people, and in her own name, expressed best wishes for a speedy recovery of His Holiness.”

An exchange of opinions followed on various international problems, with particular reference to the Holy Land, to the Middle East, and to the situation in other Asian countries. Attention was also given to the theme of religious freedom in various parts of the world.”

“Finally,” the document stated, “certain questions concerning bilateral relations were considered, reaffirming the will to collaborate in safeguarding and promoting spiritual values."


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