5 December 2003, Vatican City -- Pope John Paul II today gave his backing to the International Alliance Against Hunger promoted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

The Pope was speaking at a special audience for delegates from many of FAO's 188 Members attending the Organization's biennial Conference at its Rome headquarters.

He said: "Our meeting today allows me to express the appreciation of the Catholic Church for the important service which FAO renders to humanity."

He went on: "Today this service is more urgently needed than ever. Hunger and malnutrition, aggravated by growing poverty, represent a grave threat to the peaceful coexistence of peoples and nations."

He told the delegates gathered in the baroque splendour of the Vatican's Sala Clementina: "Given this close relationship between hunger and peace, it is clear that economic and political decisions and strategies must increasingly be guided by a commitment to global solidarity and respect for fundamental human rights, including the right to adequate nourishment."

"For this reason I am confident that the work of FAO in establishing an International Alliance Against Hunger will bear fruit in practical choices and political decisions inspired by the awareness that humanity is one family."
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