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Pope, Lebanese premier discuss Middle East tensions

Catholic World News - February 22, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI met with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the Vatican on February 20. In a brief statement released after the meeting, the Vatican noted the "exemplary coexistence of the various religious communities" in Lebanon in past years, and said that continued inter-faith harmony should be a model for the Middle East.

The Vatican indicated that the Pope's talks with Hariri had touched upon plans for the October Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, and the prospects for an end to the conflicts in the region.

Speaking to Italian reporters after his meeting with the Pontiff, the Lebanese leader offered a stronger message, saying that he had told Pope Benedict that aggressive Israeli policies are undermining the security of his nation. Hariri told the Italian daiy Corriere della Sera that "Israel is looking for excuses for war."

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