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Cablegate: Holy See: Foreign Minister's Interview On Lebanon

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1. (U) Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, the Holy See's Secretary for
Relations with States (i.e., Foreign Minister) gave an interview
to Vatican Radio July 27 on the Rome Conference which met July
26 on the Lebanon crisis. The interview was published under the
headline, "4 Positive Aspects of Talks on Lebanon: Analysis of
Vatican Secretary for Relations With States." Full text of
this interview follows in para 2 below.

2. (U) Begin text:

VATICAN CITY, JULY 27, 2006 (The 15-nation conference held in
Rome on Wednesday failed to produce an immediate cease-fire, but
there were significant results, says the Vatican secretary for
relations with states. Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo participated
as an observer in the international conference, and in this
interview aired today on Vatican Radio, he offers his analysis
of the meeting.

Q: The international conference for Lebanon was held yesterday,
at the initiative of the United States and Italy, in which the
Core Group on Lebanon and other countries took part. The Vatican
press office announced that a delegation led by you was present
in the capacity of observer. Can you explain this?

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Archbishop Lajolo: As is known, the Holy See is directly
interested in peace in the Middle East, as it has demonstrated
on several occasions. Yesterday, at the invitation of the United
States and Italy, the Holy See was able to participate in the
capacity of observer; by its nature, this is the role with which
the Holy See generally participates in international

Q: What is your judgment on the conference?

Archbishop Lajolo: Of course it is positive that it was called
with such speed at the initiative of the Italian government, and
that it focused its attention on the most urgent needs of the
present time.

Q: The conclusions gathered in the declaration of the two
co-presidents, the secretary of state of the United States,
Condoleezza Rice, and the Italian minister of foreign affairs,
Massimo D'Alema, have been considered rather disappointing. What
is your opinion?

Archbishop Lajolo: It's true, the expectations of the public
were certainly high, but for the well-informed who understand
the difficulties, it could perhaps be said that the results were
significant. Above all, I would like to underline these positive
aspects: One, the fact that countries from various parts of the
world, from Canada to Russia, came together in an awareness of
the gravity of what is happening in Lebanon, reaffirming the
need for the country to regain full sovereignty as soon as
possible, and that they made a commitment to help her. Two, the
request to form an international force, under the mandate of the
United Nations, to support the regular Lebanese army in security
matters. Three, the commitment to offer immediate humanitarian
aid to the people of Lebanon and the guarantee of support in
rebuilding by calling a conference of donor states. Several
participant countries have anticipated the offer of considerable
aid, though it is still insufficient to cover the country's
enormous needs. Four, also positive is the commitment adopted
by the participants, after the official closing of the
conference, to remain in constant contact concerning further
developments in the intervention of the international community
in Lebanon.

Q: But, what has caused this sense of disappointment?

Archbishop Lajolo: Above all, by the fact that there was no
request for an immediate cessation of hostilities. Unanimity
among the participants was not achieved because some countries
maintained that an appeal would not have produced the desired
effect. And it was felt more realistic to express a commitment
to achieve without delay a cessation of hostilities, a
commitment which can, in fact, be maintained. Another
problematic issue was the fact that the conference limited
itself to inviting Israel to exercise the greatest restraint. By
its nature, this call has a certain inevitable ambiguity, while
respect for the innocent civilian population is a precise and
binding duty.

Q: What is the judgment of the Lebanese government?

Archbishop Lajolo: On one hand, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora had
the opportunity to fully explain the dramatic nature of the
situation of the country and to present his own plan for the
immediate and definitive resolution of the conflict with Israel.
On the other, he was also able to witness and further encourage
the positive efforts being made by the international community
to help the Lebanese people, to put an end to the conflict and
to reinforce his government's control of the country. Yesterday

VATICAN 00000153 002.2 OF 002

evening, Prime Minister Siniora, accompanied by the minister of
foreign affairs, Fauzi Salloukh, requested a meeting with the
Vatican secretary of state and with me. He expressed great
appreciation for the commitment with which the Holy Father in
person, and the Holy See, follow the conflict that is racking
Lebanon, and he requested continuing support for his country in
the international arena. He also recalled Pope John Paul II's
words, who defined Lebanon not only as a country, but as "a
message" for all peoples of harmonious coexistence among various
religions and confessions in one state. This is the historical
vocation of the Lebanon, which must be able to be realized. The
Holy See will continue to offer all the means at its disposition
so that the country will return to be that "garden" of the
Middle East, as it was before.

Q: In the capacity of observer, have you had the possibility to
influence, at least indirectly, in the works of the conference?

Archbishop Lajolo: An observer does not have the right to speak,
and I was not asked. I believe, however, that the silent
presence of the observer of the Holy See at the table of the
leaders of delegations had a clearly perceptible significance.

Q: After this conference, what is the Holy See's position on
this subject?

Archbishop Lajolo: The Holy See remains in favor of an immediate
cessation of hostilities. The problems on the table are many and
extremely complex, and precisely for that reason cannot all be
dealt with together, while bearing in mind the general picture
and the overall solution to be achieved, the problems must be
resolved "per partes," beginning with those that are immediately
resolvable. The position of those who maintain that conditions
must first be created so that any truce is not once again
violated, is only apparently one of realism, because those
conditions can and must be created with means other than the
killing of innocent people. Benedict XVI is close to those
peoples, victims of confrontations and of a conflict foreign to
them. The Pope prays, and with him the entire Church, for the
day of peace to come today and not tomorrow. He prays to God
and appeals to political leaders. The Pope weeps with every
mother weeping for her children, with all those weeping for
their loved ones. An immediate suspension of hostilities is
possible, and, therefore, necessary.


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