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THE WHITE HOUSE

                     Office of the Press Secretary
                         (St. Louis, Missouri)
________________________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release                                   January 26, 1999

STATEMENT BY THE PRESS SECRETARY

                     President Clinton's Meeting with 
                      His Holiness Pope John Paul II

His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, and President Bill Clinton had a private conversation that lasted about 20 minutes. The President thanked the Pope, on behalf of the American people, for his profound spiritual and moral guidance.

The President and the Holy Father addressed some of the present challenges to peace and justice around the world and the ways in which mutual cooperation could bring an end to conflict and relief to suffering populations. Coming from Mexico, the Pope emphasized again the great need for continental -- indeed global -- solidarity, stressing the role of the U.S. and its contribution in recent dramatic situations like the disaster in Central America.

The President expressed his admiration for the Pope's tireless endeavors to improve the lives of the poor and disadvantaged, especially in developing nations. The Pope stressed the importance of religious freedom, noting with satisfaction the determination of the U.S. to demand and foster this basic freedom.

He likewise stated his views on other issues affecting human dignity, expressing the hope that the value of the human being will be defended and protected in all circumstances.

Finally, President Clinton expressed appreciation for the positive role of the Holy See in international affairs and wished the Pope good health as he prepared the church for the advent of its third millennium. The Holy Father spoke of the leading position of the United States in international matters and reaffirmed that the President and all the leaders of the United States were in his prayers.

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