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Pope Benedict XVI called for a negotiated settlement in Libya and an end to bloodshed in Syria, where civil strife has left hundreds of people dead. Speaking at his noon blessing at the Vatican on May 15, the pope said he was following the conflict in Libya with “great concern” and was especially worried about the suffering of civilians. “I renew a pressing appeal that the way of negotiation and dialogue may prevail over violence,” the pope said. The highest church official in Libya, Bishop Giovanni Martinelli of Tripoli, again called for a cease-fire so that civilians could “catch their breath.” The pope said the situation in Syria required urgent efforts to find social harmony. “I ask God that there be no further shedding of blood in that country of great religions and great civilization,” he said. “I ask the authorities and all the citizens to spare no effort in seeking the common good and in accepting the legitimate aspirations for a future of peace and stability.”

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