Arafat Invites Pope to Visit Bethlehem
Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat invited Pope John Paul II to Bethlehem for celebrations of the new millennium and said the pontiff reacted positively. During a brief private audience, the pope told Arafat that he will pray for the Palestinian “nation” and that he believed goodwill by both Israelis and Palestinians is needed to revive the deadlocked Middle East peace process. “When I met His Holiness this morning, we had wide-ranging talks on [the millennium celebrations in] Bethlehem. I also invited His Holiness to participate with us in this event. I had a positive reaction from him,” Arafat told reporters afterward. The Palestinian leader is on a two-day visit to Italy.