Iran General NewsPope calls for solution to Iran crisis in first...

Pope calls for solution to Iran crisis in first Easter message

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The Sunday Telegraph (online edition): Pope Benedict has called for an “honourable solution” to the nuclear crisis with Iran in his first Easter message. The Sunday Telegraph (online edition)

Pope Benedict has called for an “honourable solution” to the nuclear crisis with Iran in his first Easter message.

Speaking on his 79th birthday, the Benedict XVI also called for a truly independent Palestinian state, and global co-operation to combat terrorism

He made his appeal for world peace in his Easter “Urbi et Orbi” message to nearly 100,000 people St Peter’s Square in Rome.

Millions more people in 65 countries watched the speech and mass at home on television.

The Pope, who marks the first anniversary of his election on Wednesday, used his speech to draw attention to the problems facing the world, particularly in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.

In a clear reference to Iran, he said: “Concerning the international crises linked to nuclear power, may an honourable solution be found for all parties, through serious and honest negotiations.”

In another part of the speech, the Pope defended Israel’s right to exist, a passage which appeared to be an indirect criticism of statements by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iranian President, that the Jewish state should be eliminated.

But he also called for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

He said: “May the international community, which re-affirms Israel’s just right to exist in peace, assist the Palestinian people to overcome the precarious conditions in which they live and to build their future, moving towards the constitution of a state that is truly their own.”

The Pope struck a different tone to the one he took at an Easter ceremony on Friday, when he claimed that the world was in the grip of Satan and prayed for mankind to open its eyes to the “filth around us”.

This is the first Easter since the death of Pope John Paul II, who was severely ill a year ago and was only able to make brief appearances in the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. He died days later.

Easter is the most important day of the Christian calendar, when the world’s 1.1 billion Roman Catholics celebrate Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

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