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Rome Reports

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Sarkozy Meets Pope To Assuage Tension Over Gypsies

Sarkozy presented the Pope with a collection of books by the French author Rene Chateaubriand in exchange for a ceramic and print of St. Peter?s Basilica. After speaking to the Pope, in a meeting that has been described by the Vatican as - ; cordial - Sarkozy met with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. The French president also prayed at an altar of the Basilica and paid tribute to the tomb of the deceased patron saint of the Catholic Church. Sarkozy?s visit follows the French government?s controversial decision to dismantle hundreds of illegal gypsy settlements and deport over one thousand Roma back to Romania and Bulgaria. In August, the Pope expressed concern, urging prayer for peace and that efforts may be made to overcome the logic of violence. Today?s meeting is widely seen as an attempt for Sarkozy to improve his image among French Catholics. ;Looking ahead the two leaders agreed to maintain a reciprocal collaboration between the Holy See and the French government at an institutional level in the future. SCCTVGP- BN