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Syria's Assad sends message to Pope Francis, Vatican says

This handout picture released on December 25, 2013 by the Vatican press office shows Pope Francis during his traditional Christmas "Urbi et Orbi" blessing from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / OSSERVATORE ROMANO/HO

VATICAN CITY: Syrian President Bashar Assad has sent Pope Francis a private message, the Vatican said on Saturday, without disclosing its contents.

The Vatican said a delegation headed by Joseph Sweid, a Syrian minister of state, held talks in the Vatican with the pope's secretary of state, Archbishop Pietro Parolin and his foreign minister, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti.

"The delegation brought a message from President Assad for the Holy Father and illustrated the position of the Syrian government," a statement said.

Francis has made numerous appeals for an end to the civil war in Syria, the latest on Christmas Day.

Syria's civil war between forces loyal to Assad and mostly Sunni Muslim rebels fighting to topple him has killed more than 100,000 people since March 2011.

 

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