Pope appeals for diplomatic talks to halt armed conflict in Libya

Praying for peace in Libya, Pope Benedict XVI has issued a “heartfelt appeal” to political leaders to begin immediate talks to halt the use of weapons.

His fear for the safety and security of civilians has grown, as has his concern about the developments in the armed conflict, he told a crowd of thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square after the Sunday Angelus prayers.

Rebel forces backed by France, Britain, Spain and the United States are challenging forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Ghadafi.

In times of “high tension,” the Pope said, the need becomes more urgent to resort to every means of diplomatic action and to support the “weak signs” of willingness to find “peaceful and lasting solutions.”

He prayed to God for “a return to concord” in Libya and the entire North African region.

The Pope also noted recent episodes of violence in the Middle East. He asked that those involved privilege the way of dialogue and reconciliation in the search for “a just and brotherly coexistence.”

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