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Tuesday, September 14, 2004


VATICAN CITY, SEP 14, 2004 (VIS) -  Joaquin Navarro-Valls, director of the Holy See Press Office, made the following declaration today at noon:

  "Israeli Interior Minister Avraham Poraz, accompanied by Israeli Ambassador Oded Ben-Hur, by an advisor, Paltiel Varon, and by the director of the Department for Relations with Christians, Cesar Marjeh, were received this morning at 9:45 a.m. by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State. Joining the cardinal were Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, secretary of Relations with States, and Msgrs. Franco Coppola and Joseph Murphy, officials of the Secretariat of State.

  "The cardinal secretary of State -  having recalled that the positions of the Holy See on peace, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and, in general, on the situation in the Middle East were well-known to the Israeli government, and that he personally had the possibility to illustrate these positions over the course of visits to the Vatican by the Head of the State of Israel and the Minister of Foreign Affairs - suggested that today's meeting focus on the questions of the minister's jurisdiction.

  "In the course of the meeting, they talked about the Fundamental Agreement of 1993 and the Legal Personality Agreement of 1997.  In particular, they spoke about the issue of entrance visas to Israel for religious personnel of the Catholic Church, a question about which the minister gave assurances of having given the necessary instructions for a satisfactory solution. They also discussed the progress of negotiations underway in Jerusalem for the realization of an agreement that defines the fiscal questions of ecclesiastical institutions in Israel.

  "The minister then went to Castelgandolfo where he was received in audience by the Holy Father."

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