Vatican seeks better ties with Islamic institute

Vatican City - The Vatican is seeking to repair relations with the pre-eminent institute of Islamic learning in the Sunni Muslim world.

Cairo's Al-Azhar academy froze its dialogue with the Vatican last week to protest Pope Benedict XVI's recent remarks calling for better protection for Christians in Egypt.

The head of the Vatican's office for interreligious dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, told the Vatican newspaper Friday that the Holy See didn't understand what Al-Azhar was so upset about.

He said any careful reading of the pope's remarks showed he was merely asserting universal values about the need for religious freedom.

Tauran said he remained open to dialogue and that regardless, a February meeting with Al-Azhar remained on his calendar.