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Vatican, Italy warn against Syria intervention

Pope, Letta urge negotiations for at G20 on Syrian conflict

Vatican, Italy warn against Syria intervention

(By Sandra Cordon). Rome, September 5 - Pope Francis and the Italian government sounded a similar note on Thursday as they urged world leaders to find negotiated solutions to the Syrian crisis. In a heartfelt letter sent to Russian President Vladimir Putin as host of the G20 summit as it opened Thursday, Pope Francis called on leaders there to find a peaceful resolution that will prevent further war in Syria. "To the leaders present, to each and every one, I make a heartfelt appeal for them to help find ways to overcome the conflicting positions and to lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution," wrote the pope. "Rather, let there be a renewed commitment to seek, with courage and determination, a peaceful solution through dialogue and negotiation of the parties, unanimously supported by the international community,” he added. "Moreover, all governments have the moral duty to do everything possible to ensure humanitarian assistance to those suffering because of the conflict, both within and beyond the country’s borders". The G20 summit represents "the last chance for negotiated, political solutions to be found on Syria", Italian Premier Enrico Letta told a press conference at the G20 summit on Thursday. Italy's concern about the situation is at "the maximum," he said, adding that although he felt an "understanding" for United States President Barack Obama's position, Italy would only favour military intervention if it is endorsed by the United Nations. And UN support for joint action against Syria is not expected. Without an endorsement of action from the UN, Italy is "unable" to intervene, said Letta. The situation in Syria is rapidly coming to a head as Obama is seeking approval from Congress to begin military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for allegedly using chemical weapons. Shortly before the summit began, a US Senate panel approved the use of military force in Syria, in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack. That measure, which goes to a full Senate vote next week, allows the use of force in Syria for 60 days with the possibility to extend it for 30 days. Following that, it must also be approved by the US House of Representatives. Letta also said that he noticed no discomfort between Obama and Russia's Vladimir Putin, an ally of the Syrian president, over the issue. "There does not appear to be any element of coldness," said Letta. Just one day earlier, Francis pulled together politicians and religious leaders representing the Jewish and Muslim communities as well as Catholic officials to take part in a day of prayer and fasting for peace this Saturday. Warmth was very evident in the response. Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge said that she would participate, along with the Grand Mufti of Syria, Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, and Rome's chief rabbi Riccardo Di Segni. "May a powerful cry for peace go up from every land!" the pope declared.

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