1. ITV Report

Pope uses Christmas message to call for two-state solution in Middle East

Credit: AP

Pope Francis has used his traditional Christmas message to call for a two-state solution to find peace in the Middle East, after President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital ignited fresh violence in the region.

"The winds of war are blowing in our world and an outdated model of development continues to produce human, societal and environmental decline," the pope said in his traditional "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and to the world) Christmas message and blessing from the central balcony overlooking St. Peter's Square in Vatican City.

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 recognised borders."

He also prayed for an end to confrontation on the Korean Peninsula and that "mutual trust may increase."

The pontiff lamented that Syria remains "marked by war," that Iraq has been "wounded and torn" by fighting over the last 15 years and that ongoing conflict in Yemen "has been largely forgotten."

Pope Francis visited Bangladesh earlier in December Credit: PA

Recalling his recent trip to Bangladesh and Myanmar, the pope urged the international community to work "to ensure that the dignity of the minority groups present in the region is adequately protected."

The pontiff also recalled children who risk their lives at the hands of human traffickers to migrate to safer lands, who suffer because their parents don't have work or who are forced into labor themselves, sometimes fighting as child soldiers.