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Pope John Paul II looks at some gifts presented to him by Iran's President Mohammad Khatami at the Vatican Wednesday, March 11 1999 during a special audience that could lay ground for better relations between Christianity and Islam. (AP Photo/Massimo Sambucetti, Pool)

Puzzled Pope gets TV mini-series

VATICAN CITY, March 13, (AP) - It is not often that Pope John Paul gets videos of a television mini-series as a gift from a visiting head of state.

That was one of the three gifts Iranian President Mohammad Khatami came bearing Thursday when he visited the Pope at the end of his landmark visit to Italy.

Speaking through an interpreter at a photo session after a private audience, Khatami gave the six video cassettes to a slightly puzzled Pope.

Khatami explained that the series was broadcast on Iranian television and described the trials and tribulations of early Christians who were persecuted by Romans in what is now Iran.

"I hope you will find it interesting,'' Khatami said. Khatami also brought the Pope more traditional gifts of a framed, hand-made tapestry depicting St Mark's Square in Venice and a book of Islamic poems.

The Pope, who aides say hardly ever watches television but does enjoy an occasional movie, gave Khatami a framed bronze relief depicting the apostles Peter and Paul, and commemorative medals of his pontificate in pearly white boxes.


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