Pontiff to interrupt summer break for talks in Rome

As international leaders increasingly discussed the possibility of armed intervention in Syria, the Vatican announced Pope Francis would interrupt the last week of his summer break to meet Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

Jordan and Syria share a border, and Jordan is currently home to about 500,000 Syrian refugees. Both the Pope and the King have repeatedly called for the international community to help broker a negotiated end to the fighting in Syria.

“It is not clashes, but an ability to meet and to dialogue that offers prospects for a hope of resolving the problems,” the Pope said on Sunday after reciting the Angelus with visitors in St Peter’s Square.

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After several days of delay, supposedly for their protection, the Syrian government gave UN weapons inspectors permission to visit the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack, but the inspectors had to turn back to their hotel on Monday after their vehicles were fired upon. The Syrian government blamed the rebels, and the rebels blamed government forces.

On Monday US Secretary of State John Kerry said: “We know that the Syrian regime maintains custody of these chemical weapons. We know that the Syrian regime has the capacity to do this with rockets. We know that the regime has been determined to clear the opposition from those very places where the attacks took place.”

Prime Minister David Cameron has recalled Parliament on Thursday to discuss possible responses to the ongoing crisis, while Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird described the alleged chemical weapons attack as a “dark new chapter” in the Syrian crisis. He added that the Canadian government “believes the only way to halt the bloodshed in Syria is through a political solution.”

Alexander Lukashevich, the foreign minister of Russia, an ally of Syria, said in a statement that military action without the approval of the UN Security Council would lead to “new suffering in Syria and catastrophic consequences for other countries of the Middle East and North Africa”.

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