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Israeli President Peres to visit Pope
Vatican, Aug. 24, 2007 (CWNews.com) - Israel's President Shimon Peres will visit Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) for a private audience on September 6, Vatican sources have disclosed. The meeting will take place at the Pope's summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.
Peres will be making his first visit with the Pontiff since assuming the Israeli presidency in July of this year. But the veteran politician is a familiar figure at the Vatican, having visited on several occasions during his years as Israel's foreign minister and prime minister.
In April 2006, Peres-- who at the time held no government leadership position, although he remained prominent in Israeli politics-- spoke at length with Pope Benedict during a visit to Rome. Their conversation was dominated by two topics: the prospects for peace in the Middle East, and the stalled negotiations toward a final juridical-economic pact establishing the rights of the Church in Israel.
Pope Benedict met with the previous Israeli president, Moshe Katsav, in November 2005. During that visit the Israeli leader issued a formal invitation for the Pope to visit the Holy Land. The Pontiff responded positively to that invitation, but no date was set for a trip. Informed sources indicate that a papal trip is not likely to take place until the successful completion of negotiations toward a final diplomatic pact.