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Pope to visit Lebanon despite Syria conflict, Vatican says

August 20, 2012 19:39

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict's trip to Lebanon next month will go forward as planned, the Vatican said on Monday, even as fighting rages in neighboring Syria.

Benedict's visit to Lebanon is scheduled for Sept. 14-16. But escalating violence in Syria and sectarian tensions in Lebanon prompted speculation last week that the pontiff might be forced to postpone the trip.

"The preparations for the visit are going ahead without any uncertainty on the part of the Vatican," Federico Lombardi, spokesman for the Holy See, told reporters.

Lombardi said one of the pope's specially designed cars - a so-called popemobile equipped with bullet-proof glass - was already on its way to Beirut.

Lebanon will be the 85-year-old pope's second foreign visit this year after a trip to Mexico and Cuba in March.

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