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Pope calls for 'coexistence' at start of Caucasus tour

Pope Francis releases a dove as a symbol of peace during a meeting with the Chaldean community at the Catholic Church of St Simon Bar Sabbae in Tbilisi, on September 30, 2016Pope Francis called Friday for respect of national sovereignty and “coexistence” as he arrived in Georgia but seemed to dodge potential Russian ire at the start of a visit to the volatile Caucasus region. The pontiff was greeted warmly by President Giorgi Margvelashvili and the leader of the Georgian Orthodox church, Patriarch Ilia II, at the start of the three-day visit to Georgia and Azerbaijan that the Vatican has billed as a peace mission. Pro-Western Georgia — one of the world’s oldest Christian nations — fought a brief war with Russia in 2008 and two Moscow-backed breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which remain out of Tbilisi’s control.

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