VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis and Jordan’s king stressed Thursday that dialogue and negotiations are the only way for ending Syria’s civil war, the Vatican said.
Days earlier, Francis has said that the use of arms won’t resolve the civil war in Syrian where so far has killed over 100,000 people. The United States and its allies are considering a military intervention in response to the Syrian regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons in a rebel-held Damascus suburb on Aug. 21, where hundreds died. Syria denies it has used such weapons, and has blamed the rebels for the attack.
Vatican said in a statement after the meeting that the “path of dialogue and of negotiation among all components of Syrian society, with the support of the international community, is the only option to put an end to the conflict and to the violence, which, every day, cause the loss of so many human lives, above all among the defenseless population.”
Jordan’s King Abdullah II, whose country borders Syria and has been hosting over half a million Syrian refugees, called for a “comprehensive solution to end the suffering of the Syrian people, safeguard the unity of the Syrian people and land and prevent the region from falling into the abyss,” Jordan’s royal court said in a statement.
In an unusual twist on Vatican protocol, the pope met with King Abdullah II and Queen Rania together. Customarily, the pontiff holds private talks with a nation’s leader or ruler, then greets briefly, in a wider meeting, the spouse and other members of the delegation. Instead, Francis met with the royal couple together for 20 minutes.
Francis greeted his guests with a simple “welcome, your majesty,” as the couple arrived in the apostolic palace. Before journalists were ushered out of the hall, Queen Rania told Francis it was a “tremendous honor” to meet him.
Associated Press writer Jamal Halaby in Amman, Jordan, contributed to this report.