Pope Francis stresses need to resolve ‘grave humanitarian situation’

Pope Francis on Wednesday urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to make a “sincere and great effort” to bring peace to Ukraine, according to a Vatican spokesman.

The leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics met Putin on the Russian leader’s one-day visit to Italy. The pair also discussed conflict in the Middle East, particularly Syria and Iraq.

Accordig to Anadolu Agency, Vatican spokesman Reverend Federico Lombardi said the pope had called for both sides in the war in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists have been fighting government forces for more than a year, to comply with the Minsk cease-fire agreement.

Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of supporting the rebels with arms and sending Russian troops to fight in the region. Moscow denies the allegations.

Earlier Putin held talks Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Milan.

The Vatican said the pope, who was meeting Putin for the second time, stressed the need to resolve the “grave humanitarian situation” in Ukraine and allow aid into the conflict zone.

More than 6,000 people have lost their lives in eastern Ukraine since April last year, according to the U.N.

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