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The two discussed a wide range of topics, Middle East prominent. Both leaders also spoke about terrorism and the use of religion to justify it.

WASHINGTON, DC (CNA) - After a welcome ceremony filled with displays of Americana and good wishes, Pope Benedict and President Bush met in the Oval Office for a private conversation that centered around achieving peace in the Middle East and other areas of mutual concern.

The 45 minute meeting between the Holy Father and the President was wide ranging, covering many “moral and religious considerations to which both parties are committed,” the White House said in a statement.

Among the topics discussed were, “the respect of the dignity of the human person; the defense and promotion of life, matrimony and the family; the education of future generations; human rights and religious freedom; sustainable development and the struggle against poverty and pandemics, especially in Africa.”

Both leaders also spoke about terrorism and the use of religion to justify it. According to the White House, they both reaffirmed their “total rejection of terrorism as well as the manipulation of religion to justify immoral and violent acts against innocents.” Also stressed, was the need to confront terrorism with appropriate means that respect the human person and their rights.

The situation in the Middle East was an item that the two heads-of-state devoted considerable time to.

Issues that were addressed specifically, included: “resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict in line with the vision of two states living side-by-side in peace and security, their mutual support for the sovereignty and independence of Lebanon, and their common concern for the situation in Iraq and particularly the precarious state of Christian communities there and elsewhere in the region.”

Pope Benedict and the President mutually expressed their hope for an end to violence and for a prompt and comprehensive solution to the crises which afflict the region.

Finally, the issue of immigration was raised by the Pope. The “need for a coordinated policy regarding immigration, especially their humane treatment and the well being of their families,” was discussed, the White House said.

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