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DAMASCUS, November 12 (Itar-Tass) —— Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia urged Syrians to solve their problems through dialogue without bloodshed.
“It is my deep conviction that all problems can be solved peacefully through dialogue. It is important to avoid bloodshed. History teaches us that when human blood is spilt, it is hard to solve a problem,” the patriarch said at the airport upon arrival in Damascus on Saturday, November 12.
He recalled that Russia and Syria have been bound by friendly ties for many years.
“I understand that I have come to this country at a time when it is living through hard times,” Kirill said.
He stressed that Syria is a country with big cultural traditions where Christians and Muslims have been living peacefully side by side for centuries. “I believe that the historical wisdom of the people and the historical memory of the people of Syria will help at this time of hardships consolidate all efforts for a peaceful and fair resolution of problems,” he said.
“The Russian Orthodox Church is praying for the Syrian people ... and we believe that God will show mercy and the country will pull through this period of hard trials, the unity of its people will become stronger, the rights of all religions will be respected as before as will rejoice at the Syrian people’s achievements,” the patriarch said.
Kirill has arrived in Syria at a hard time marked by months of mass riots that have claimed some 4,000 lives. A hope for the end of the crisis appeared only recently after the adoption by the League of Arab States of a “road map” that envisions measures aimed at restoring confidence and fostering a dialogue between the sides.
The patriarch will meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to call for the speediest stabilisation and national reconciliation in the country.
Apart from contacts and joint service with Patriarch Ignatius IV, Kirill will also have talks with Syria's Grand Mufti Shiekh Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, whose son was killed by brigands two months ago, and confer with Prime Minister Adel Safar and Minister of Awqaf (Religious Endowments) Mohammad Abdul-Sattar al-Sayyed.
When asked about the importance of Kiril’s visit, Patriarch Ignatius IV of Antioch and All the East said the Russian Church is the world’s biggest Orthodox Church with which the Church of Antioch has been bound by “historical, spiritual and brotherly ties”.