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Pope calls for dialogue, not arms, in Libya

Pope Benedict XVI has called for an end to armed hostilities in Libya. The comments are the most political he has made so far on the crisis in the North African country.

Pope Benedict XVI

The pope says he is concerned about civilian populations

Pope Benedict XVI has made his strongest statement to date on the conflict in Libya, calling for "an immediate dialogue" to halt the violence there.

Speaking at his Sunday blessing in St Peter's Square, Benedict said he was appealing to "international organizations and those with political and military responsibilities" to start talks leading to a suspension in armed hostilities.

The pontiff said there was "an urgent need to rely on every diplomatic measure available" to bring about a reconciliation between the warring parties.

Nazi massacre site

Pope Benedict XVI visits the Fosse Ardeatine site in Rome

It was Benedict's first visit to the site as pope

On Sunday, the Pope also paid his respects at a site on Rome's outskirts where the Nazis executed over 300 Italian men and boys during World War II in retaliation for a partisan attack in which 33 German soldiers were killed.

The 83-year-old pontiff knelt in prayer at the graves of the victims, before he and Rome's Chief Rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni, each recited a psalm. Among those killed were some 76 Jews.

It was the first visit to the site as pope by the German-born Benedict. The location, known as the Ardeatine Caves, was also visited by his predecessors Paul VI and John Paul II.

In 1998, former SS Captain Erich Priebke was sentenced to life in prison by an Italian court for his role in the killings. The 97-year-old Priebke is currently under house arrest granted to him due to his age.

Author: Timothy Jones (dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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