Pope urges G20 nations to avoid military solutions in Syria

Vatican City, Sep 5 (EFE).- Pope Francis sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the opening of the G20 summit in St. Petersburg urging world leaders to eschew military solutions to the conflict in Syria.

"To the leaders present, to each and every one, I make a heartfelt appeal for them to help find ways to overcome the conflicting positions and to lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution," the missive read.

"It is regrettable that, from the very beginning of the conflict in Syria, one-sided interests have prevailed and in fact hindered the search for a solution that would have avoided the senseless massacre now unfolding," the pope said.

The pontiff reminded world leaders of their "moral obligation" to promote humanitarian assistance for people wounded in the conflict and those forced to flee the Arab nation.

He also urged the international community to work to achieve peace through dialogue and negotiation.

The Vatican said Thursday that its foreign minister, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, had met earlier in the day with 71 nations' ambassadors to the Holy See to express the church's position with respect to the conflict in Syria.

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved on Wednesday a bill that would authorize President Barack Obama to order attacks on Syria to punish Damascus for its alleged use of chemical weapons against rebels.

The measure, which passed the committee by a vote of 10-7 with one abstention, is likely to be considered by the full Senate next week.

The Syrian government denies using chemical weapons.

Syria's civil war has claimed some 100,000 lives since March 2011.