Pope urges dialogue on Syria and Libya

Pope Benedict XVI called for a redoubling of efforts to restore peace in conflict-torn Syria and Libya.

Last Updated: Aug 07, 2011, 20:43 PM IST

Castel Gandolfo: Pope Benedict XVI
called on Sunday for a redoubling of efforts to restore peace in
conflict-torn Syria and Libya.

In his weekly address to pilgrims, the pontiff asked for
the "legitimate aspirations" of the Syrian people to be met,
while urging the international community to revive efforts for
a Libyan peace plan.

"I am following with deep concern the dramatic and
increasing episodes of violence in Syria that have led to
numerous victims and grave suffering," the pontiff said at his
summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, outside Rome.

Syria`s government has sought to crush the democracy
movement with brutal force, leaving at least 2,038 people
dead, including 389 members of the security forces, according
to the Britain-based Observatory.

The pontiff also expressed concern about the situation in
Libya where rebels are combatting forces loyal to Moamer
Gaddafi.

"I exhort the international organisations and those who
bear political and military responsibility to revive with
conviction and determination the search for a peace plan for
the country, through negotiations and constructive dialogue,"
the pontiff said.

"Force of arms has not resolved the situation."
Benedict made a "pressing appeal to the authorities and
the population to return to peaceful coexistence as soon as
possible" in Syria -- also for the benefit of regional
stability.

Calling for the dignity of Syrian citizens to be
respected, the pontiff invited "faithful Catholics to pray
that the efforts of reconciliation may prevail over the
division and resentment" in Syria.

In June, he had expressed concern over events in Syria in
a meeting with the new Syrian ambassador to the Holy See,
Hussan Edin Aala.

The pontiff said at the time that mass demonstrations
against the government in Damascus showed "the urgent need for
real reforms".

Benedict has previously said that Syria was traditionally
"an example of tolerance, of conviviality and of harmonious
relations between Christians and Muslims".

About 7.5 per cent of Syria`s 20 million inhabitants are
Christian.

Syrian troops kill at least 52 people

Two Syrian rights groups say government
forces have killed at least 52 people in the latest phase of
their crackdown on dissent and the toll for the day could rise
to 69.

Today`s casualties were mainly in the eastern city of Deir
el-Zour and the central city of Houleh.

Abdul-Karim Rihawi, the Damascus-based chief of the Syrian
Human Rights League, says at least 42 people were killed in
Deir el-Zour and 10 in Houleh.

Ammar Qurabi, who heads the National Organisation for
Human Rights in Syria, says 42 people were killed in Deir
el-Zour and 17 in Houleh.

He says 10 people were shot dead in Idlib while taking
part in a funeral.

PTI