Pope Benedict urged Shimon Peres to use his term as Israeli president to advance peace.
Peres, who was to be sworn in as Israel’s ninth head of state Sunday evening, received letters of congratulations from the pontiff as well as other world figures. Israeli media quoted Benedict as telling Peres that millions of people in Israel and abroad hope that he will help Middle Eastern leaders bring peace to the region.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert described Peres’s inauguration as an event of global significance.
“Shimon Peres has been one of the most important figures in Israel over the past 60 years,” Olmert told his Cabinet. “He is a person who is welcomed and known in the entire world as a representative of the State of Israel, and he is one of the best-known figures in the world.”