Pope hails Mozambique peace deal, offers solidarity for cyclone victims

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Pope Francis began the first full day of his visit to Mozambique on Thursday, praising a peace deal between government and rebels and offering solidarity to victims of two devastating cyclones.

His maiden visit to the poor southeast African country comes after the government and the former rebel group Renamo, now the main opposition party, signed a historic treaty.

Mozambique’s 16-year civil war devastated the former Portuguese colony, and Renamo had never completely disarmed.

In talks with President Filipe Nyusi, the pope expressed his “personal gratitude… for the efforts made in recent decades to ensure that peace is once more the norm.”

Reconciliation, he said, is “the best path to confront the difficulties and challenges that you face as a nation.”

He described the accord as “a landmark that we greet with the hope that it will prove decisive.”

The talks at the presidential palace were also attended by Renamo chief Ossufo Momade and other opposition leaders.