From Desmond O'Grady in Rome
POPE JOHN Paul II gave the Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres an audience on Tuesday morning but the Vatican did not issue a communique concerning it.
It was a private audience which lasted longer than expected and it had been preceded by a meeting between Peres and the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Agostino Casaroli.
After the visit to the Vatican, which in all took one and a half hours, Peres said he was received with cordiality, but that Jerusalem "remains the capital of Israel", highlighting that the Vatican continues to insist on the internationality of Jerusalem.
In his apostolic letter of April 28 1984, Pope John Paul said failure to give a special international status to Jerusalem was a hindrance to Middle East peace.
Peres also said that Pope John Paul would be "a welcome guest of Israel" if he came to the Middle East.
In January 1973 Paul Vi received Golda Meir. Peres's visit is the second time an Israeli Prime Minister has been received by a Pope.