Syria civil war: Pope and Jordan's King Abdullah say dialogue the 'only option'


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The Independent Online

As governments and legislatures in the US and UK mull intervention in Syria's civil war, the Pope and the Jordanian king have said that dialogue is the "only option" for ending the bloody conflict.

King Abdullah II, his wife Queen Rania and the Pope spoke privately for 20 minutes in the Vatican's apostolic palace. The royal couple had flown to Rome specifically to discuss the crisis.

In a statement, the Vatican said the two men "reaffirmed that the path of dialogue and negotiations among all components of Syrian society, with the backing of the international community, is the only option to end the conflict and the violence that each day cause the loss of so many human lives, most of all among the defenceless population."

King Abdullah, whose country borders Syria and has been hosting over half a million Syrian refugees, called for a "comprehensive solution to end the suffering of the Syrian people, safeguard the unity of the Syrian people and land and prevent the region from falling into the abyss," Jordan's royal court said in a statement.

The conflict, now in its third year, is fought between the regime and anti-government rebels, mostly from the disparate Free Syrian Army. It has spilled periodically across Syria's borders with Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey, threatening to engulf the region.

Today in the UK, MPs have debated military intervention, with Prime Minister David Cameron claiming evidence suggests President Assad has used chemical weapons against his own people.

Last Sunday, the Pope spoke of "atrocious acts" following an apparent poison gas attack that residents in a Damascus neighbourhood say killed hundreds of people.