Vatican plea for Jerusalem talks


Jerusalem - The Vatican yesterday requested that it take part in coming Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on the future of Jerusalem and called for a "special international status" for its holy places.

"The Holy See believes that it's important for its representative to sit at the negotiating table to make sure that they are fair and that no aspect of the problems will be forgotten," said Vatican Foreign Minister Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran.

The monsignor reiterated the Vatican position that Israel was "illegally occupying Jerusalem". "There is nothing preventing a unique and unified Jerusalem from becoming the symbol and national centre of two peoples [Israeli and Palestinian] who demand that it be their own capital," he said.

Final-status talks on east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip are scheduled to begin early next month under the terms of the Wye River accord concluded last Friday.