Friday, February 14, 2003 - Pope calls for 'complete commitments' from Iraq to disarm

Pope John Paul II told Iraq's deputy prime minister on Friday that the Vatican opposed war against Baghdad but insisted that Saddam Hussein demonstrate "concrete commitments" to disarm.

Tariq Aziz, a Christian, met for about 30 minutes with the pope and later the Vatican secretary of state and foreign minister.

In a brief video tape released by the Vatican, the pontiff was shown firmly gripping Aziz's hand and saying: "God bless you. God bless Iraq."

In a brief statement, Vatican said the meetings allowed for an exchange of views "on the known danger of an armed intervention in Iraq, which would add further serious suffering to a population already tried by long years of embargo."

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