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Pope hails talks on Korean Peninsula, urges end to carnage in Syria

Deal to evacuate hundreds of civilians from Douma

April 02, 2018 00:00:00

VATICAN CITY, Apr 01 (Agencies): Pope Francis on Sunday said he hoped talks towards easing longstanding tensions on the Korean peninsula will "advance harmony and peace" in the region.

"May those who are directly responsible act with wisdom and discernment to promote the good of the Korean people and to build relationships of trust within the international community," the pope said in his Easter message to the world.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis called for an end to "carnage" in Syria and "reconciliation" in the Middle East in his traditional Easter message.

"Today we implore fruits of peace upon the entire world, beginning with the beloved and long-suffering land of Syria," the pontiff said in the "Urbi et Orbi" (To the City and the World) address.

Appealing to the "consciences of all political and military leaders," Francis urged "that a swift end may be brought to the carnage" as tens of thousands of pilgrims listened in St Peter's Square and millions watched the speech broadcast live around the world.

The head of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics asked that "provisions be made to facilitate access to the aid so urgently needed by our brothers and sisters, while also ensuring fitting conditions for the return of the displaced" to Syria.

As he spoke, a final deal was reportedly reached for fighters and civilians to leave the last opposition-held pocket of Eastern Ghouta. That would mark a major milestone in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's efforts to regain control of territory seized by rebel factions during the seven-year civil war which has left some 350,000 dead and displaced millions.

Earlier, Syrian regime ally Russia struck a deal with rebels to evacuate hundreds of civilians from Douma, the final opposition pocket in their former bastion of Eastern Ghouta, a monitor said Sunday.

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