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Vatican aide warns indiscriminate reprisals won't defeat terrorism

Terrorism is not defeated with "revenge" or "reprisals which strike indiscriminately at the innocent", Archbishop Renato Martino has told the UN General Assembly.

The remarks of the Vatican's permanent observer at the United Nations on Monday expressed the Holy See's official position on the questions posed by the military response to the 11 September attacks on the United States.

"Acts of revenge will not cure such hatred. Reprisals, which strike indiscriminately at the innocent, continue the spiral of violence and are illusory solutions that prevent the moral isolation of the terrorists," the archbishop said during the Assembly's plenary session on the Culture of Peace.

"Rather, we must remove the most obvious elements that spawn the conditions for hatred and violence, which are contrary to any movement toward peace," Archbishop Martino added. He mentioned "poverty" as well as different forms of violations of human rights.

The Vatican agency Fides, reporting on the speech, said, "Archbishop Renato Martino voiced the Holy See's perplexity regarding the military campaign against terrorism launched by the Anglo-American alliance in Afghanistan."

The archbishop told the U.N. body during his 10-minute address: "Situations of marginalization that engulf the lives of so many of the world's people, including the denial of human dignity, the lack of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, social exclusion, intolerable refugee situations, internal and external displacements, and physical and psychological oppression are breeding grounds only waiting to be exploited by terrorists."