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PLO Rep to Meet with Italy’s Foreign Minister and Might Also Have Audience with the Pope

A leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Farouk Kaddumi, will hold talks here next week with Foreign Minister Emilio Colombo, it was announced here today by the Foreign Ministry.

At the same time, there was an unconfirmed report that Kaddumi, head of the PLO’s political department, might have an audience with Pope John Paul II during the March 16-19 visit. If this report is confirmed, this would be the first meeting the Pope has had with a PLO representative. In March 1981 Kaddumi discussed the Middle East crisis with Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, the Vatican’s Secretary of State. Israel expressed criticism of the meeting. (See related PLO story P. 4.)

Last March the PLO official also held talks with Colombo. The Foreign Ministry said today that Kaddumi’s visit next week will be in the context of contacts Italy maintains with all parties involved in the problems of the Middle East. Italy has no formal diplomatic relations with the PLO, but the terrorist organization has had a representative in Rome since 1974.