Vatican issues cautious statement after visit by Kosovo leader

Vatican, Feb. 4, 2008 ( - After Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) met on February 2 with Fatmir Sejdiu, the president of Kosovo, the Vatican press office issued a statement emphasizing that the Holy See was not changing its policy regarding the possible independence of the Serbian province.

The Vatican "will follow developments on the ground with particular attention," the official statement indicated. The communiqué went on to say that the Holy See looked for a peaceful resolution of conflicts there, respectful of the rights of all parties.

In his talk to Sejdiu, the Vatican revealed, Pope Benedict made a pointed reminder that Kosovo is a land "where Christianity has been present since the first centuries of our era." The Christian minority in the predominantly Muslim province-- and particularly the Orthodox of the ethnic Serbian population-- have been the objects of intimidation and violence since the warfare that rocked the province in the 1990s.