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Pope calls for international presence in Mideast

Pope John Paul made an emotional appeal yesterday for peace in the Middle East, and gave his apparent support to an international peacekeeping forces in the region.

"I cannot stop thinking with extreme concern about the Holy Land, which unfortunately has not seen a truce in the almost daily episodes of abominable violence," the Pope said in his regular Sunday address.

"I ask the international community to commit itself with greater determination to be present on the ground, offering mediation to create the conditions for a fruitful dialogue between the parties that would accelerate peace."

While Palestinians have supported the idea of an international presence, Israel has vehemently opposed it.

In his address, delivered at his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, the Pope criticised both Palestinian suicide bombers and Israeli plans to wall in their settlements.

"Yet again, I make an appeal to the Israeli and Palestine politicians responsible to recover the path of fair negotiations," the Holy Father said.


12 Aug 2002