Pope Francis appealed on Wednesday for an end to bloodshed in Myanmar, saying: “Even I kneel on the streets of Myanmar and say ‘stop the violence'”.

Francis made the appeal, his latest since a Feb. 1 coup, at the end of his weekly general audience, held remotely from the Vatican library because of COVID-19 restrictions.

More than 180 protesters have been killed as security forces try to crush a wave of demonstrations.

“One more time and with much sadness I feel the urgency to talk about the dramatic situation in Myanmar, where many people, most of them young, are losing their lives in order to offer hope to their country,” he said.

In language symbolising what protesters have done, Francis said: “Even I kneel on the streets of Myanmar and say ‘stop the violence.’ Even I open my arms and say ‘Let dialogue prevail’.”

Francis, who visited Myanmar in 2017, said: “Blood does not resolve anything. Dialogue must prevail.”

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