Pope Benedict XVI met Thursday with President Shimon Peres, as the elder statesman and Nobel Peace Prize laureate continued his visit to Italy amid an international push for peace in the Middle East. The meeting took place in the papal summer retreat of Castel Gandolfo, in the hills south of Rome. The Vatican did not immediately release details of the talks, the first since Peres became president in July. On Thursday, Benedict also met with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud, and a day earlier with the Syrian vice-president, Farouk al-Sharaa. This weekend Peres travels to an international political and finance conference on Lake Como, which annually gathers world leaders, including statesmen from Arab countries.

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