Breakthrough? Syria president sends message to Pope

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In a message to Pope Francis, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said his government is ready to participate in next month’s peace talks but noted outside countries must stop supporting what he called terrorist groups in the country’s civil war, Syria’s state-run news agency said Saturday.

Al-Assad sent the message through intermediaries and expressed appreciation for how the Pope on Christmas urged an end to the violence and suffering in Syria, state-run SANA reported.

“The message also highlighted that stopping terrorism requires having the countries which are involved in supporting the armed terrorist groups stop providing any sort of military, logistic or training support, noting that this support was provided by some of Syria’s neighbors and other known countries in the Middle East and abroad,” SANA said.

The Syrian president’s message said that “the crisis will be solved through national dialogue among the Syrians and under a Syrian leadership without foreign intervention as to enable the Syrians to determine their future and leadership through ballots.”

The message was delivered during a meeting between Syrian Minister of State Joseph Sweid and the Pope’s secretary of state, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, SANA said.

Parolin told Sweid that the pope “is constantly following the situation in Syria” and “Pope Francis affirms the need to solve the crisis in Syria through dialogue among the Syrians without foreign intervention,” SANA said.

The papacy confirmed the communique, saying the Syrian leader’s “delegation brought a message from President Assad to the Holy Father and explained the position of the Syrian government,” the Vatican’s website said.

Read more: CNN

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