A handout picture provided by the Vatican Media shows Pope Francis lead theAngelus prayer from the window of his office in Vatican City on Sunday. Photo by Vatican Media/EPA-EFE

A handout picture provided by the Vatican Media shows Pope Francis lead theAngelus prayer from the window of his office in Vatican City on Sunday. Photo by Vatican Media/EPA-EFE

Sept. 18 (UPI) — Pope Francis on Sunday urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to respect a ceasefire amid the latest border clashes between the two countries that has led to the deaths of more than 200 people.

Francis, speaking from St. Peter’s Square after the recitation of the Angelus prayer, also “expressed his spiritual closeness to the families of the victims” of the fighting, according to the Vatican-run press agency Vatican News.

“Let us not forget that peace is possible when weapons are silenced and dialogue begins,” Francis said.

“And let us continue to pray for the suffering people of Ukraine and for peace in every land bloodied by war.”

Francis’ comments came as it was revealed that a top official in Moscow said authorities are working to place 125 orphan Ukrainian children described as “orphans” taken from the occupied Donetsk province of Ukraine with Russian families.

Russian forces on Sunday also continued to conduct “meaningless” offensive operations near the city of Donetsk in the Donbas region of Ukraine.

Ukraine’s drive to reclaim land in southern Ukraine strengthened over the weekend as Ukrainian forces conducted strikes on key Russian supply lines and military facilities.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led a congressional delegation to Armenia on Saturday to show support for the country amid the latest border clashes with neighbor Azerbaijan.

Her visit came after Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday met with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s Summit in Uzbekistan, hoping to mediate a solution to the conflict over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.



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