(see related stories) Vatican City, March 31 - Pope Francis called for peaceful solutions to be found to the conflicts in the Middle East in his first Easter message as pontiff on Sunday. "Peace for the Middle East, and particularly between Israelis and Palestinians, who struggle to find the road of agreement, that they may willingly and courageously resume negotiations to end a conflict that has lasted all too long," Francis said. "Peace in Iraq, that every act of violence may end, and above all for dear Syria, for its people torn by conflict and for the many refugees who await help and comfort. "How much blood has been shed. And how much suffering must there still be before a political solution to the crisis will be found?" The pope also made an appeal for an end to violence in various parts of Africa, and for an easing of tensions between North and South Korea. "Peace for Africa, still the scene of violent conflicts. In Mali, may unity and stability be restored," he said. "In Nigeria, where attacks sadly continue, gravely threatening the lives of many innocent people, and where great numbers of persons, including children, are held hostage by terrorist groups. "Peace in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in the Central African Republic, where many have been forced to leave their homes and continue to live in fear. "Peace in Asia, above all on the Korean peninsula: may disagreements be overcome and a renewed spirit of reconciliation grow.