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SHOWDOWN WITH IRAQ

Vatican Keeping Embassy Open

March 15, 2003|From Associated Press

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican said Friday that it had no intention of shutting its embassy in Iraq if war breaks out, although other governments are closing their missions and evacuating staff.

A statement by papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls called it a "time-honored tradition" that Vatican diplomats remain near the people they are serving "even in situations of extreme danger."

A number of embassies in Baghdad are closing and the United Nations is evacuating expatriate staff in expectation of a U.S.-led war to disarm President Saddam Hussein. The Spanish and German governments warned Friday against trips to Iraq and urged their citizens to leave the country.

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