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Foreign Minister al-Zebari (file photo) 25 August 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Pope Benedict XVI met today with visiting Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

The Vatican said in a statement that discussions at the papal residence in Castel Gandolfo, outside Rome, touched upon Iraq's new constitution and the importance of religious freedom. The Vatican's secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, also took part in the meeting.

Christians are believed to make up about 3 percent of Iraq's 26 million people.

Zebari's visit to Italy comes as Iraq's Kurdish, Shi'ites, and Sunni leaders are trying to reach a consensus over the country's new constitution.

On 26 August, Zebari is to meet his Italian counterpart, Gianfranco Fini.

(AP)
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