- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 27, 2004

AVIANO, Italy (AP) — Pope John Paul II, a staunch opponent of the war in Iraq, greeted Vice President Dick Cheney yesterday with a peace message. Mr. Cheney, meanwhile, spent the last day of his European trip rallying U.S. troops in the war against terrorism to “take the fight to the enemy.”

“The mission going forward is still difficult, still dangerous,” Mr. Cheney told soldiers and military family members in a crowded hangar on Aviano Air Base in northeast Italy. “We will remember every life lost with honor.”

The troops were in camouflage and some waved small American flags. In the hangar was an F-16 fighter jet and a Black Hawk helicopter.

From Aviano, Mr. Cheney was headed to nearby Vicenza, home of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, where he was to give another speech and meet with 20 troops who have just returned from Iraq. Mr. Cheney wife’s, Lynne, planned to meet with military families.

Mr. Cheney was on the final day of his five-day trip to Europe, where he attended the World Economic Forum, met with government leaders and delivered two foreign policy addresses — one in Davos, Switzerland, the other in Rome.

Before leaving Rome for Aviano, Mr. Cheney visited with the pope, who gave him a message calling for international cooperation and peace.

“I encourage you and your fellow citizens to work at home and abroad for the growth of international cooperation. … The American people have always cherished the fundamental values of freedom, justice and equity,” the pope told Mr. Cheney.

Mr. Cheney presented the pope with a piece of crystal in the shape of a dove.

The Vatican has put aside its opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq and is seeking greater involvement by the international community in rebuilding the country.

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