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Pope calls on world to help Iraqi refugees

Pope Benedict XVI urged the world to help Iraqis who have fled their country and called for better protection for Christians inside Iraq during talks Friday with Iraq's prime minister, the Vatican said.

The struggle against terrorism and the need for religious freedom also were central issues in the talks with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman.

Al-Maliki, who is on a European tour, met with Benedict at his vacation palace in Castel Gandolfo south of Rome.

A Vatican communique said a key theme was the need to assist Iraqi refugees, who both men hope will return to their country.

The Vatican said al-Maliki and Benedict described reconciliation and dialogue between Christians and Muslims as necessary for the rebuilding of the country.

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