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Pope brings peace message to Lebanon as Middle East burns

Published on Sep 14, 2012 4:49 PM
Pope benedict XVI (Centre) waves as he arrives at Rome Ciampino airport to board a plane to Lebanon on Sept 14, 2012. -- PHOTO: AFP

BEIRUT (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI left Rome on Friday for a three-day visit to Lebanon, a Middle Eastern country riven by sectarian tensions as fighting rages next door in Syria.

"Lebanon awaits the visit of peace," said a front-page headline of a Beirut paper, referring to the tiny eastern Mediterranean country that is nearly 65 per cent Muslim - Sunni and Shiite - and 35 per cent Christian.

That echoed the words of the pope himself, who said on Sunday his "trip to Lebanon and, by extension, to the whole of the Middle East, is taking place under the sign of peace.

"The commitment to dialogue and reconciliation must be the priority for all parties involved," he said.

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