The Vatican backed out of a prior written agreement to become an observer on the International Task Force on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research (ITF), a US diplomatic cable from October 2009 leaked to the Guardian revealed.

US diplomatic officials said the move "complicated Vatican foreign relations" but may have been made "due to concerns about ITF pressure to declassify records from the WWII-era pontificate of Pope Pius XII.

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According to the cable three members of the ITF visited Rome to finalize arrangements with the Holy See to become an ITF observer but the plan "had fallen apart completely...due to Vatican back-pedaling."

"Team members -- Austrian Ambassador Ferdinand Trauttsmandorff, US Professor Steve Katz of the Elie Wiesel Center at Boston University, and Dina Porat, the Israeli academic advisor to the ITF -- expressed considerable disappointment about the unexpected set-back," the cable reported.

The cable was critical of the Vatican's new foreign relations team who had been changed since the original agreement to join the ITF had been made.

The members of the ITF delegation believed reluctance to uncover archived documents was behind the decision, rejecting the notion that the Vatican backed out of the agreement in order to pressure Israel on a deal to normalize relations with the Holy See.

"The ITF team did not believe the Vatican was sending - via the decision to slow progress on the ITF observer status -- a subtle message to Israel about the need for progress in the Fundamental Agreement talks. Time will tell."

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