Cablegate: Iraqi Fm Promises Religious Freedom for Christians

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A

1.(U) Iraqi FM Hoshyar Zebari expressed his thanks to
Pope John Paul II for the Holy See's support for Iraq and
pledged religious freedom from the country's new government
during a December 13 meeting at the Vatican. Zebari later
met with Vatican Secretary of State (PM eqQivalent) Angelo
Sodano and Foreign Ministry officials. According to the
Vatican, the discussions focused on the current situation
in Iraq and the broader Middle East.

2. (U) Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-VQlls said Zebari
assured the Pope of his govermentmote
religious Qly, to defend Ch2 The Vatican has previouncern
over recent attaolic and other ChristiQn Iraq, most reQosut`hre was no quest government hhng the
security situand the safety of
Christ The problem is that they @o guarantee anyone's saa was positive about Zs credentials and noted
that he and former Vatican Foreign Minister Tauran had met
him some time ago. "His success or failure, however, does
not depend solely on him," Coppola concluded.

4.(U) Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Zebari
said Pope John Paul II's moral authority could contribute
enormously to creating peace in Iraq, and that Christian
and Muslims had lived together harmoniously for centuries.

5.(SBU) Comment: Zebari is the second high-level member
of the interim Iraqi government to visit the Pope -
following on the heels of PM Allawi's November visit. The
Holy See will continue to lobby hard for guarantees for
religious freedom in the new Iraq while promising the
active cooperation of the Vatican and local Catholic
communities in reconstruction and stabilization efforts.
End comment.


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