VATICAN, Oct 30, 01 (CWNews.com) -- Pope John Paul II met briefly with
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat at the Vatican this morning.

The brief conversation between the Pope and the Palestinian leader centered
on the "worrisome situation in the Palestinian territories," the Vatican later
announced. The statement issued by the Vatican press office also mentioned
"the recent tragic events concerning the Christian holy sites" in the
Palestinian towns such as Bethlehem.

Arafat told the Holy Father that the Palestinian Authority condemns all
forms of terrorism, and is searching for a just and durable peace. He also said
that his government would protect the rights of Christian Palestinians.

Pope John Paul renewed his appeal for an end to "the endless spiral of
violence," and a renewal of negotiations. He also repeated the position often
stated by the Holy See: that there should be international guarantees to
ensure the security of the region and free access to the holy places for all
religious believers.

Arafat arrived at the Vatican at 10 AM, in a convoy of vehicles with dark
tinted window, with an Italian military helicopter above to ensure the safety
of the procession. After leaving the Vatican, the Palestinian leader proceeded
to a luncheon date with Italian President Silvio Berlusconi. His schedule
called for a visit to Oslo, Norway, later in the day, and a return to Jerusalem-
- where Arafat is scheduled to meet with British Prime Minister Tony Blair
on Wednesday.