Pope urges dialogue in Myanmar at talks with Suu Kyi

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis called for inter-religious dialogue in Myanmar on Monday at an audience for Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi in which the two also discussed her long campaign for democracy.

Francis "expressed his appreciation for the opposition leader's non-violent engagement in the cause of peace and democracy" during the meeting, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said.

"The pope said he would pray for Myanmar, for inter-religious dialogue in the country. He also said the Church would be at the service of everyone in Myanmar without discriminating."

This was the first meeting between Francis and the historic Myanmar opposition leader, who has been criticised for not speaking out enough against ethnic and religious tensions in her homeland.

Myanmar has been rocked by sectarian unrest in recent months, prompting growing international concern.

Around 250 people have been killed and more than 140,000 left homeless in several outbreaks of Buddhist-Muslim violence around the country since June 2012, mostly in western Rakhine state.

Catholics are a small minority in Myanmar and mainly live in the northeast of the country.

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