Weapons imports to Syria are 'grave sin', insists Pope


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Pope Benedict XVI appealed for a halt to arms imports to Syria yesterday ahead of landing in Beirut for a three-day visit focused on promoting peace in the Middle East.

Christian, Sunni and Shia Muslim and Druze religious leaders offered a display of religious harmony as they joined Lebanon's political elite, including Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, in greeting the pope on his arrival at Rafik Hariri international airport.

"The import of weapons has to finally stop," Benedict, 85, told journalists on the plane. "Without the import of arms the war cannot continue. Instead of importing weapons, which is a grave sin, we have to import ideas of peace and creativity."

Asked about Christians' fears about rising aggression from Islamist radicals, Benedict said: "Fundamentalism is always a falsification of religion."