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Pope Francis called on Saturday for an “urgent” end to the Syrian civil war and the refugee crisis it has spawned as he opened a three-day trip to the Middle East. During his first stop in Jordan, Francis also urged greater Christian-Muslim coexistence across the region, thanking King Abdullah II for encouraging a “climate of serene coexistence” among people of different faiths. In an opening speech to Abdullah and Jordan’s religious and political leaders he said, “Religious freedom is in fact a fundamental human right and I cannot fail to express my hope that it will be upheld throughout the Middle East and the entire world.”

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