The Vatican announced Tuesday it would host a workshop early in the new year to brainstorm peaceful solutions to the ongoing civil war in Syria.
The Vatican has invited leading figures including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Mohamed ElBaradei, the Egyptian former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, to brainstorming sessions on Jan. 13. The talks will focus on achieving a ceasefire, providing humanitarian aid, and supporting Christians persecuted in Syria, reports the Associated Press. United Nations-backed peace talks are due to begin in Geneva on Jan. 22.
The Vatican has taken an active role in the push to end the civil war that has raged in Syria for over two and a half years, with Pope Francis calling as recently as Christmas Day for a negotiated end to the fighting. Vatican sources confirmed Saturday that Syrian President Bashar Assad sent the Pope a private letter laying out his government’s position ahead of the U.N. talks.