Pope Might Travel to Iraq in Autumn
Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, president of the Vatican Committee for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, speaking at the Pontifical French Seminary in Rome March 2, said the pilgrimage would begin in Ur, the ancient Chaldean city that was home to Abraham. However, the cardinal said that “agreements must still be reached with the various religious leaders” in Iraq.
Zenit emphasized that the Pope's plans would focus international attention on the economic embargo against Iraq. The article said the Holy See has repeatedly condemned the embargo, “which for seven years has lacerated the weakest of the population, especially children, women and the elderly.”
Iran's President to Meet Pope
Iranian newspapers have hailed the trip as a turning point in the nation's relationship with the West. Reuters quoted an editorial in Iran News that claimed “President Khatami's meeting with Pope John Paul II will be the first step toward a dialogue between Christianity and Islam and will lead to further dialogues with other nations, religions and civilizations.”
European oil giants ENI and Elf Aquitaine signed an early March deal worth $1 billion to develop Iran's offshore oil fields. “The deal flies in the face of U.S. sanctions which target firms that invest more than $20 million in Iran's oil or gas sectors,” said the report.