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Pope Calls For Peace In Syria, Yemen In Christmas Message

Pope Francis (center) delivers the traditional Urbi et Orbi Christmas Day blessing from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican on December 25.

Pope Francis used his Christmas message on December 25 to urge the world to put aside "partisan interests" to find a political solution to conflicts in Syria, Yemen, and other flash points.

Francis delivered the traditional papal "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) message to tens of thousands of people in St. Peter's Square.

"My wish for a happy Christmas is a wish for fraternity. Fraternity among individuals of every nation and culture. Fraternity among people with different ideas... Fraternity among persons of different religions," he said.

Francis went on to call for peace in Syria, Yemen, Africa, the Korean Peninsula, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. He also hoped for reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.

The pontiff said he hoped a truce in Yemen would end a devastating war which has killed around 10,000 people since 2015 and pushed 14 million Yemenis to the brink of famine.

"My thoughts turn to Yemen in the hope that the truce brokered by the international community may finally bring relief to all those children and people exhausted by war and famine," Francis said.

He also called for a peaceful solution to the war in Syria that has killed some 400,000 people and displaced millions since it began in 2011.

"May the international community work decisively for a political solution... so that the Syrian people, especially all those who were forced to leave their own lands and seek refuge elsewhere, can return to live in peace in their own country," the pontiff said.

The Urbi et Orbi speech is often an occasion for the pope to speak about the globe's trouble spots and other violence.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters