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Pope repeats call for lifting of embargo against Iraq

Pope John Paul II on Tuesday appealed to the international community to lift the embargo imposed on Iraq, for the sake of the innocents who suffer its consequences.

The Pope made a public appeal when he met Chaldean-rite bishops from Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Turkey and the United States, at the end of their quinquennial "ad limina" visit to the Vatican. He greeted Chaldean Patriarch Raphael Bidawid, whose see is in Baghdad.

In his address the Pope expressed his "compassion" for Iraq's Christians, "tried for years, like the rest of the country's population, by the rigor of the embargo imposed on them."

"I pray to the Lord to illumine intelligences and hearts of leaders of nations so that they will act in favor of the re-establishment of a just and lasting peace in that region of the world, and so that the attacks against the security of individuals and the good of peoples will cease," he said.

At the same time, the Holy Father said that this Friday's day of fasting and prayer for world peace will bring believers closer to the sufferings of Iraq's innocent peoples.