Pope says Iraq will ‘always remain in my heart’

Pope Francis is accompanied by Iraq’s President Barham Salih and his wife Sarbagh Salih before departing for Rome, at Baghdad International Airport in Baghdad, Iraq March 8, 2021. (Reuters)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Pope Francis said on Monday that Iraq would “always remain in my heart” following his historic trip to the country.

Francis, who paid a four-day visit to Iraq, ended his tour of Iraq on Monday morning, departing by plane from Baghdad after visiting conflict-torn cities, meeting Muslim and Christian leaders and preaching peace and coexistence over war.

“Iraq will always remain in my heart,” Francis said in a tweet.

“I ask all of you, dear brothers and sisters, to work together, united for a future of peace prosperity that leaves no one behind and discriminates against no one,” he added.

“I assure you of my prayers for this beloved country.”

During Francis’ s trip, the first ever papal visit to Iraq, he toured four cities, including Mosul, the former Islamic State (ISIS) stronghold where vast areas still lie in ruins, telling Iraqis that “peace is more powerful than war”.

Iraqis welcomed the pope and said it was a chance for the world to see their perpetually crisis-hit nation in a new light.

Iraq suffers from chronic mismanagement and corruption, and a steady level of violence often linked to the region’s U.S.-Iran rivalry 18 years after the United States invaded.

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