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Vatican reiterates call on Jerusalem

ROME, Aug. 1 (JTA) — The Vatican’s foreign minister has informed visiting U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that an international status for Jerusalem is a prerequisite for a “just and lasting” Middle East peace.

A Vatican spokesman said Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran stressed to Albright on Tuesday “the priority of dialogue; respect for international decisions, particularly U.N. resolutions; and the necessity of a special, internationally guaranteed status for the holy places of the three monotheistic religions.”

The Vatican, which sees itself as the protector of Christian interests in Jerusalem and at other Holy Land sites, has long sought to be an active player in Middle East peace negotiations. It also wields influence with the Palestinians.

Albright stopped off in Rome on her way home from Asia to brief Tauran on last month’s failed talks at Camp David between Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

Earlier Tuesday, at a news conference following talks with Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini, Albright said that at Camp David, Arafat had not shown an interest in the internationalization of Jerusalem and had insisted on full Palestinian sovereignty over eastern Jerusalem.

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