Pope lands in Beirut to start unity visit

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Pope lands in Beirut to start unity visit

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Pope Benedict has arrived in the Lebanese capital, Beirut to begin a three-day visit.

He is there to address Christians living in a region torn by civil war in neighbouring Syria.

On the flight to Beirut, he told reporters that weapons imports into Syria were a ‘grave sin’ and he called for them to stop.

He also praised the Arab Spring, saying it was a positive ‘cry for freedom’ as long as it was accompanied by religious tolerance.

The pontiff is expected to emphasise peace between Christians and Muslims.

Indeed, his arrival was greeted warmly by Hezbollah, who hung banners along the main airport link-road that read: “Hezbollah welcomes the pope to the homeland of co-existence.”

His visit comes at a time when the Christian population in the region as a whole is on the wane. Some estimates say the current total could be halved over the next seven or so years.

Security was low-key in Beirut. The only protests, against an American film on the prophet Mohammad, were planned far from the city.