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Pope calls for negotiations over Caucasus flare-up

FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis arrives for the first weekly general audience to readmit the public since the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in the San Damaso courtyard at the Vatican, September 2, 2020. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane/File Photo

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis appealed to Armenia and Azerbaijan on Sunday to resolve their differences through negotiations following clashes over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region.

“I pray for peace in the Caucasus and ask the parties in conflict to make concrete gestures of goodwill and brotherhood that can lead to the resolution of problems not with the use of force and weapons but through dialogue and negotiations,” he said.

Francis, who was speaking at his Sunday noon blessing in St. Peter’s Square, visited both countries in 2016.

The pope said he was worried about the reports of fresh clashes, in which sources on both sides reported fatalities. He asked the crowd to pray in silence together with him for peace in the region.

Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Catherine Evans