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Rome Reports

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Shimon Peres meets with Pope and condemns all forms of violence

The Vatican hopes an agreement can be reached which respects the "legitimate aspirations" of the two peoples and which brings a lasting peace to the Holy Land and wider Middle East.

Both leaders condemned all recourse to violence and stressed the need to ensure stability and good living conditions for all people in the area.

The discussions also turned to the state of relations between the Vatican and Israel. Local Church matters were discussed, such as the need to conclude the economic agreements which have been discussed for various years now.

Israeli President Shimon Peres gave the pope a candelabra - the seven-branched Menorah – one of the official symbols of the State of Israel. The president had inscribed the phrase. "The sheperd who seeks to lead us to the fields of blessings and the fields of peace".

Shimon Peres came early in the morning, and strolled through the Vatican gardens next to the residence.

Shortly before meeting with the Pope, the President met for nearly an hour with Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone,where the two discussed relations between the two states.

This is the fourth time that Shimon Peres has met Benedict XVI. The most recent occasion was in 2009 when the Pope visited the Holy Land.

In other issues, discussions are ongoing regarding Israel?s delayed full implementation of the framework agreement with the Vatican, called "fundamental agreement" signed in 1993. The accord calls for the exchange of ambassadors and notes a series of steps to gradually normalize diplomatic relations.

Progress moved forward in 1997 when Israel recognized the juridical personality of the Church, although Israeli legislation has yet to be updated regarding the matter.

The next bilateral meeting between the Vatican and Israel will take place on December 6th and will focus on fiscal questions regarding the Church, in addition to the return and protection of Church properties in the country.