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Pope issues appeal for Syria cease-fire, path to reconstruction at start of Syria peace talks

Pope Francis is urging delegates attending the Syria peace conference in Switzerland to do everything they can to negotiate a cease-fire and launch "decisive" steps toward reconciliation and reconstruction.

Francis issued the appeal during his general audience Wednesday.

He said: "I pray that the Lord touches everyone's hearts so that they do everything in their power to urgently end the violence, in the interests of the poor Syrian people."

The Vatican was invited to attend the Syria conference and sent two senior diplomats. Earlier this month, a Vatican-sponsored meeting called for an immediate and unconditional cease-fire in Syria on humanitarian grounds.