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Vatican workshop studies Syria.

VATICAN CITY * A Vatican study group is urging world leaders to stop the flow of arms into Syria and to press for an immediate and complete cease-fire there with no political preconditions.

"Political transformation is needed," a written statement said, but "it is not a precondition for ending violence; rather it will accompany the cessation of violence and the rebuilding of trust."

The statement was based on what came out of a daylong closed-door workshop hosted Jan. 13 by the Pontifical Academy for Sciences.

Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi. Vatican spokesman. said the initiative was a "brainstorming" session meant to gather ideas for Pope Francis and not form an official Vatican position.

Seven international experts and leaders--including former Egyptian Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei and U.S. economist and adviser Jeffrey Sachs--attended and explained the different positions of some of the major players involved in the conflict.

Syria's brutal civil war has left at least 100,000 people dead, 6.5 million people displaced inside Syria and forced nearly 2.5 million people to flee the country.

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Title Annotation:WORLD BRIEFS
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Geographic Code:7SYRI
Date:Jan 31, 2014
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