03/29/2007, 00.00
VATICAN – ISRAEL
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Israel reassures Catholics after meeting with Vatican cancelled

Israeli ambassador to the Holy See says that a new date for the plenary is being worked out. Head of Israeli delegation writes a letter to the Vatican to apologise for postponement.

Rome (AsiaNews) – Israel’s Ambassador to the Holy See Oded Ben Hur spoke to AsiaNews to reassure Catholics that the Israeli decision not to attend today’s plenary in the Vatican did not mean negotiations were off or show any lack of respect for the host delegation. The absence was “only” due to factors related to the “current international situation.”

Mr Ben Hur told AsiaNews that “the reason for the postponement of the plenary meeting of the Permanent Bilateral Working Commission relates to new circumstances in the Middle East, which required the present of the director general of Israel’s Foreign Minister. The Arab League conference in Riyadh and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s trip to the Middle east prevented him from leaving.”

Following the cancellation of the meeting, “the director general (who is also the head of the Israeli delegation in talks with the Vatican) sent a letter to the Secretary of State of the Holy See, explaining the political circumstances that forced him to stay in Israel and expressing his apologies for delaying the Vatican meeting.”

In a press release, the Holy See yesterday voiced its “regrets” for the cancelled meeting, and expects that a new date for the plenary will be set “very soon”.

Ambassador Ben Hur expressed his “disappointment” for what he said are misunderstandings. He also noted that “given the good relations between the Holy See and the State of Israel, and the good will shown by both parties so far in the bilateral talks, we are certain that a date for the Commission’s meeting will be agreed upon quickly.”

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