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Vatican Official Pays Visit to Iraq

June 13, 1998

A Vatican official has visited Iraq, reportedly to confer about the idea of adding that nation to a possible millennium tour of biblical lands by Pope John Paul II.

The Iraqi town of Ur is traditionally regarded as the home of the prophet Abraham--revered by Christians, Jews and Muslims alike--before he set out with his family for Canaan.

The pope has expressed a desire to visit lands associated with the Bible in 2000 to mark the end of Christianity's second millennium. The visit would include stops in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Egypt, the Palestinian self-rule areas and, possibly, Iraq.

In an interview published in the Rome daily La Republica, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray said the pope would like to convene a meeting of Christians, Jews and Muslims at what is believed to be the biblical Mt. Sinai, on Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.

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