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Assassin sends best wishes to Pope

Ankara, Feb. 4 (Reuters): The Turkish gunman who tried to assassinate Pope John Paul in 1981 has sent a letter wishing the ailing Pontiff a quick recovery, the Vatan daily said today.

The 84-year-old Roman Catholic leader is recovering in Rome's Gemelli hospital after suffering a momentary blockage to his breathing on Tuesday night.

Mehmet Ali Agca, who shot the Pope during a general audience in St Peter's Square on May 13, 1981, wrote his letter in Italian from the Istanbul jail where he is serving a sentence for killing a Turkish journalist and for robbery.

'You and I, we have both suffered in trying to spread religion around the world. I hope you regain your health in the near future,' Vatan quoted Agca, a Muslim, as writing.

'We are approaching the end of the world. This generation is the last generation. I hope God grants you strength and health,' it said.

Agca served 19 years in an Italian prison for his attempt on the Pope's life. Authorities pardoned him in 2000 and returned him to his native Turkey. Agca alleged Bulgaria's secret services commissioned him to kill the Pope on the orders of the Soviet KGB, who feared the Polish-born Pontiff would stir anti-communist revolt in east Europe.

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