VATICAN CITY, JAN 27, 2004 (VIS) - United States Vice President Dick Cheney, his wife and an entourage were welcomed to the Vatican at 11 this morning by Pope John Paul II. A subsequent meeting with Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano also took place.
"I am pleased to welcome you and your family to the Vatican and to receive the cordial greetings which you bring from President Bush," said the Holy Father. "The American people have always cherished the fundamental values of freedom, justice and equality. In a world marked by conflict, injustice and division, the human family needs to foster these values in its search for unity, peace and respect for the dignity of all. I encourage you and your fellow citizens to work, at home and abroad, for the growth of international cooperation and solidarity in the service of that peace which is the deepest aspiration of all men and women. Upon you and all the American people I cordially invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God."
Following the encounter, Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls made the following statement:
"This morning the Vice President of the United States of America, Richard Cheney, paid a visit to His Holiness John Paul II after which he met with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, and Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, secretary for Relations with States.
"During the course of the conversations there was an exchange of opinions on the international situation, with special attention to the peace process in the Middle East and to developments in the situation in Iraq. There was also an examination of the moral and religious problems that touch upon the life of States, especially relative to the defense and promotion of life, the family, solidarity and religious freedom."
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