Pope Francis has decried the "the winds of war" blowing around the world in his traditional Christmas message, which also calling for a two-state solution in the Middle East.
As Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, the pope, in his traditional Urbi et Orbi (To The City And To The World) Christmas message from the Vatican, he also prayed that confrontation can be overcome on the Korean Peninsula.
"The winds of war are blowing in our world and an outdated model of development continues to produce human, societal and environmental decline," the pontiff said in his December 25 message and blessing from the central balcony overlooking St. Peter's Square.
U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital has sparked fresh violence in the Middle East, while confrontation with North Korea over its nuclear tests has escalated tensions in Asia.
The pope depicted suffering reflected "in the faces of little children," citing war and other tensions in the Middle East and Africa.
He asked for peace for Jerusalem and the Holy Land, and prayed "that the will to resume dialogue may prevail between the parties and that a negotiated solution can finally be reached, one that would allow the peaceful coexistence of two states within mutually agreed and internationally recognized borders."
The pontiff also said he would "pray that the Lord may also grant peace" in the Donbas, and said that he had seen Jesus "in children who, together with their families, suffer from the violence in Ukraine and its grave humanitarian repercussions."
Francis also prayed for an end to confrontation on the Korean Peninsula and expressed hope that "mutual trust may increase."
The Urbi et Orbi message has become an occasion for popes to survey suffering in the world and press for solutions.
The pontiff urged that "our hearts not be closed" as the inns of Bethlehem were to Mary and Joseph before Jesus's birth.
Francis criticized the situation in Syria, which remains "marked by war." He also lamented that Iraq had been "wounded and torn" by war over the past 15 years and that ongoing conflict in Yemen "has been largely forgotten."
Francis, who celebrated the fifth Christmas of his pontificate, said he had also seen Jesus in the children he met during his recent trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh, and he called for adequate protection of the dignity of minority groups in that region.
More than 600,000 Muslim Rohingya people have fled mainly Buddhist Myanmar to Bangladesh in recent months.
With reporting by AP, Reuters, and dpa