VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday called for a fair and lasting solution to the Middle East conflict which should recognize and respect the rights of all people. A dialogue has begun on the situation in the Middle East and notably on the need for a fair and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which would recognize and respect the rights of all, the Vatican said after the pope met with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas. During their 15-minute encounter the head of the Roman Catholic Church and Abbas also stressed the importance of cooperation and mutual respect between the parties and of the support of the international community. Abbas also met with the popes prime minister, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, officially the Vatican Secretary of State. The Vatican said the talks were cordial and broached the situation of Catholics in the Palestinian territories and more generally in the region as well as their contribution to the social life and the peaceful coexistence of the people.