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Thursday 18 September 2014

Pope thanks Jordan for refugee help

Published 24/05/2014 | 13:46

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Pope Francis waves as he boards a plane at Fiumicino airport in Rome May 24, 2014. With a Rabbi and a Muslim leader in tow, Pope Francis makes his first visit to the Middle East on Saturday, a delicate mission to push his vision of inter-religious dialogue as a vehicle for peace in the region. He will visit Jordan, the Palestinian Territories and Israel during his May 24-26 trip. REUTERS/Tony Gentile (ITALY - Tags: RELIGION)
Pope Francis waves as he boards a plane at Fiumicino airport in Rome May 24, 2014. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Pope Francis has thanked Jordan for welcoming hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria, calling for an "urgent," peaceful solution to the conflict.

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His comments come as he began a three-day visit to the Middle East

Pope Francis also lauded Jordan for the "serene coexistence" enjoyed by Christians and Muslims in the country and called for greater protections for minority Christians across the region in prepared remarks to King Abdullah II and Jordanian political and religious leaders at the royal palace.

Francis' plane touched down at Amman's Queen Alia International Airport this afternoon, his first stop in a busy trip that will bring him to the West Bank city of Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

During the flight from Rome, Francis told reporters the intense trip would be "very challenging" but rewarding.

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