11/26/2004, 00.00
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Pope calls for peace, justice and tolerance in the fight against terrorism

In receiving the president of Yemen, the Pope calls for inter-religious dialogue in the region.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "Combat terrorism, striving for peace and justice".  This is what the Pope asks of "all men and women of good will", noting that a better world can be achieved when "people recognize the ongoing need for tolerance and mutual understanding".  In receiving the President of Yemen, Mr Ali Abdullah Saleh, at the Vatican today, John Paul II's greeting revolved around the questions of terrorism and religious freedom.  Mr Saleh's visit also included a private meeting with the Pope, which lasted about ten minutes. 

Referring to the period of unrest that Yemen is currently experiencing, the Pope encouraged the country in their efforts to "foster the spirit of frank and open dialogue between the different religions and peoples of the Arabian Peninsula". 

Speaking off the cuff and in Arabic, President Ali Abdullah Saleh thanked the Pope for his "profound words" and said that his country is "open to living in peace with all religions".

The Yemenite head of state presented the Pope with a characteristic curved sword of embossed silver measuring some 50 centimetres in length, as well as a medallion commemorating Yemen's 1990 unification.

Yemen is a country that has long been infiltrated by terrorism, but is also one of the few countries of the Arabian peninsula to have Christian churches and laws that do not heavily discriminate against non-Muslims. (FP)
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