Vatican says ready to 'facilitate dialogue' between Russia and Ukraine

Secretary of State of the Holy See Cardinal Pietro Parolin addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., September 28, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

VATICAN CITY, Feb 28 (Reuters) - The Vatican said on Monday it was ready to "facilitate dialogue" between Russia and Ukraine to end the war, and called for an immediate stop to the "military attack".

Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who ranks second only to the pope in the Vatican hierarchy, told Italian newspapers that "despite the war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine" he was "convinced there is always room for negotiations".

Ukraine's ambassador to the Vatican, Andriy Yurash, told Reuters in an interview on Feb. 14 that Kyiv was open to a Vatican mediation of its conflict with Russia, calling the Vatican a "very influential, very spiritual place for a meeting". read more

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Parolin, the Vatican's top diplomat, said that dialogue was the only "reasonable and constructive" way to work out differences.

"The Holy See, which in these years has followed events in Ukraine constantly, discreetly and with great attention, offering to facilitate dialogue with Russia, is always ready to help both sides resume such a path," he said, according to a transcript on the official Vatican News website.

The Russian embassy to the Vatican declined to comment.

"Above all the military attack must stop immediately. We are all witnesses to its tragic consequences," Parolin said.

He suggested that this is what Pope Francis told the Russian ambassador when he made a surprise visit to the Russian embassy to the Vatican on Friday, in an unprecedented departure from diplomatic protocol. read more

Parolin said the world was witnessing events similar to those that preceded the start of World War Two, an apparent reference to Germany's invasion of Poland in 1939.

Pope Francis on Sunday made an impassioned call for humanitarian corridors to help refugees leave Ukraine and said those who make war should not be deluded into thinking that God is on their side. read more

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Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore, Jacqueline Wong and Ed Osmond

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