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Sunday, 24 June 2007

Blair & Pope: "frank exchange"

This is my own translation of a Communiqué issued yesterday by the Holy See's Press Office:
Today, 23 June 1007, the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in Audience the Prime Minister of Her Britannic Majesty, the Hon Anthony Blair. Following this, [Mr Blair] paid a visit to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, accompanied by His Excellency Mgr Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States.

In the course of the conversations some significant contributions of Prime Minster Blair, during his ten years of Government, were reviewed. There followed a frank exchange on the present international situation, not omitting to face particularly delicate questions such as the conflict in the Middle East and the future of the European Union following the Brussels summit. Finally, after an exchange of opinions on some laws recently approved by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, best wishes were conveyed to the Hon Anthony Blair who is about to relinquish the office of Prime Minister, considering the fact that he expressed his keen desire to commit himself in a particular way to peace in the Middle East and to inter-religious dialogue.
Bear in mind that this is the language of diplomacy. The expression "frank exchange" is a translation of franco confronto ("confronto" does not usually mean "confrontation"). It is quite a significant expression in diplomacy usually interpreted by the press as "blazing row". That may be putting it too strongly but it is clear that Mr Blair did not simply have Pope Benedict smile and nod: he was challenged both on international matters and certain "laws recently approved" in the UK.
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