Pope backs Iraqi call for its sovereignty to be respected

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Iraqi President Barham Salih (L) meets Pope Francis at The Vatican on January 25, 2020. (AFP)
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Iraqi President Barham Salih (L) exchanges gifts with Pope Francis at the end of a private audience at The Vatican no January 25, 2020. (AFP)
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Iraqi President Barham Salih (R) meets Pope Francis at The Vatican on January 25, 2020. (AFP)
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Iraqi President Barham Salih (L) meets Pope Francis at The Vatican on January 25, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 25 January 2020

Pope backs Iraqi call for its sovereignty to be respected

  • President Barham Salih held private talks for about 30 minutes with the pope and then met the Vatican’s two top diplomats
  • The recent tensions in Iraq could make it impossible for Francis to visit the country, which he has said he would like to do this year

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis met Iraq’s president on Saturday and the two agreed that the country’s sovereignty must be respected, following attacks on Iraqi territory this month by the United States and Iran.
President Barham Salih held private talks for about 30 minutes with the pope and then met the Vatican’s two top diplomats, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, its foreign minister.
The talks “focused on the challenges the country currently faces and on the importance of promoting stability and the reconstruction process, encouraging the path of dialogue and the search for suitable solutions in favor of citizens and with respect for national sovereignty,” a Vatican statement said.
On Jan. 8, Iranian forces fired missiles at two military bases in Iraq housing US troops in retaliation for Washington’s killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike a Baghdad airport on Jan. 3.
The Iraqi parliament has passed a resolution ordering the 5,000 US troops stationed in Iraq to leave the country.
Soon after the Iranian attack, Francis urged the United States and Iran to avoid escalation and pursue “dialogue and self-restraint” to avert a wider conflict in the Middle East.
The pope discussed the Middle East with US Vice President Mike Pence on Friday.
The recent tensions in Iraq could make it impossible for Francis to visit the country, which he has said he would like to do this year.
The Vatican said the pope and Salih also discussed “the importance of preserving the historical presence of Christians in the country.”
The Christian presence in Iraq and some other countries in the Middle East has been depleted by wars and conflicts.
Iraq’s several hundred thousand Christians suffered particular hardships when Daesh controlled large parts of the country, but have recovered.


UN hosts Libyan military leaders in hopes of end to conflict

This handout picture released on October 19, 2020 by the United Nations Office at Geneva shows Deputy special representative of the UN Secretary-General for Political Affairs in Libya Stephanie Williams (3rd R) and representatives wearing protective face masks, standing during the Libyan national anthem at the beginning of talks between the rival factions in the Libya conflict, as they resume in Geneva. (AFP)
Updated 20 October 2020

UN hosts Libyan military leaders in hopes of end to conflict

  • The meetings make up the security aspect of three-track talks, also involving political and economic tracks, that are aimed to lift Libya out of its grueling conflict that has ground on nearly ever since the fall of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011

GENEVA: Military leaders from Libya’s warring sides met on Monday in Geneva in hopes of a UN-brokered breakthrough that could pave the way for a “complete and permanent cease-fire” in the conflict-ridden North African country.

The meeting that began on Monday marks the fourth round of talks involving the Joint Military Commission under the watch of the head of the United Nations support mission for Libya, former US State Department official Stephanie Williams.
UN organizers say the round is expected to run through Saturday, and Williams’ mission “hopes that the two delegations will reach a solution to all outstanding issues in order to achieve a complete and permanent cease-fire across Libya.”
The meetings make up the security aspect of three-track talks, also involving political and economic tracks, that are aimed to lift Libya out of its grueling conflict that has ground on nearly ever since the fall of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
Speaking at the start of the talks, Williams told the two sides that their success in these talks would have a positive effect on the political and economic tracks of the ongoing UN-brokered talks aiming at ending years-long Libya conflict.
Williams, who met on Friday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow, said encouraging separate meetings were held with the two delegations in the past two days.
The Geneva-based military talks came ahead of an upcoming political forum in Tunisia in November.
That forum aims to “generate consensus on a unified governance framework and arrangements that will lead to the holding of national elections,” the UN mission said.
Last month, the two sides reached preliminary agreements to exchange prisoners and open up air and land transit across the country’s divided territory.
This breakthrough also accompanied with the resumption of oil production.
Fighting has died down amid international pressure on both sides to avert an attack on the strategic city of Sirte, the gateway to Libya’s major oil export terminals.