Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday called for a cease-fire in Gaza and the resumption of peace talks, condemning violence in all its forms.
Benedict's new appeal came as part of a broad-ranging speech to the Holy See's diplomatic corps. He said a cease-fire in the Gaza strip is indispensable for restoring acceptable living conditions to the population, calling for peace talks and "the rejection of hatred, acts of provocation and the use of arms."
The pontiff condemned violence "wherever it comes from and whatever form it takes."
Benedict said that coming elections in the region will be "crucial."
"It is very important that ... leaders will emerge who can decisively carry forward this process and guide their people toward the difficult yet indispensable reconciliation," the pope said.
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