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Pope Francis convenes Mideast envoys amid Islamist threat

The meeting brought together Vatican envoys from Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Iraq, Libya, Syria and Turkey

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Pope Francis has convened his ambassadors from across the Middle East for three days of meetings to try to better protect Christians targeted by Islamist militants.

Francis attended Thursday's session, which brought together Vatican envoys from Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Turkey. They were joined by various heads of the Holy See bureaucracy.

Francis has denounced the persecution of Christians in Syria and northern Iraq by Islamic militants and said it was legitimate to stop their advance. Earlier this week, his No. 2, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, told the U.N. General Assembly that multilateral intervention using a "proportionate use of force" was both "licit and urgent."

The Vatican is particularly worried about the Islamic assault since 2,000-year-old Middle East Christian communities are being emptied.