Lebanon asks Vatican for help in cease-fire push

Lebanon has turned to the Vatican for help in pressing for a cease-fire in Middle East fighting, with the son of assassinated former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri meeting on Wednesday with the Holy See's secretary of state. Vatican officials said a meeting was scheduled late Wednesday between Cardinal Angelo Sodano and Saad Hariri, who is a senior Lebanese political leader. The assassination last year of Hariri's father prompted events that led to a democratically elected government largely free of Syrian control. Hariri was scheduled to meet on Thursday with Italy's foreign minister. Italy has been playing the role of what Premier Romano Prodi calls a "facilitator" in efforts to defuse the crisis. The Vatican-affiliated news agency Asia News reported on Wednesday that Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora had telephoned Sodano a day earlier to seek the Vatican's help in pressing for a cease-fire.