Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday called for dialogue and reconciliation in the Middle East as he prepared to visit war-torn Syria’s neighbor Lebanon.

“My apostolic trip to Lebanon, and by extension to the whole of the Middle East, is taking place under the sign of peace,” the pope said after delivering the Angelus blessing from his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo outside of Rome.

“The commitment to dialogue and reconciliation must be the priority for all parties involved,” he said, calling for the international community to support such efforts.

“Even if it seems difficult to find solutions to the different problems, we cannot resign ourselves to violence and the exacerbation of tensions,” said the 85-year-old German pontiff.

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