"Today in the Apostolic Palace of the Castelgandolfo, Benedict XVI received in audience Shimon Peres, president of the Israel, who also met with the Cardinal Secretary of the State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with the States.
"During the cordial discussions, the pilgrimage of His Holiness to the Holy Land in May 2009 was recalled.
"Concerning the renewal of direct contacts between the Israelis and Palestinians, scheduled for today in the Washington, U.S.A., the hope was expressed that this may assist in reaching an agreement that is respectful of the legitimate aspirations of the two peoples and capable of bringing the lasting peace to the Holy Land and to the entire region. The condemnation of all forms of the violence and the necessity of guaranteeing better conditions of life to all the peoples of the area were reaffirmed. The discussions also touched on inter-religious dialogue and an overview of the international situation.
"The discussions also permitted the examination of the relations between the State of Israel and the Holy See and those of the State authorities with the local Catholic communities. In this regard, emphasis was given to the great significance of the presence of these communities in the Holy Land, and the contribution they make to the common good of society, also through Catholic schools. Finally, the results, thus far, of the bilateral working Commission, which has for many years been tasked with the drafting of an accord concerning economic matters, were noted while at the same time expressing the hope for the rapid conclusion of its work".