VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis warned Thursday that increasing tensions between the U.S. and Iran are setting the stage for a broader conflict in the Mideast while jeopardizing efforts to rebuild Iraq.

Francis listed the “particularly troubling” deterioration of U.S.-Iran relations following the U.S. strike that killed Iran’s top general in his annual foreign policy address that also touched on climate change and nuclear proliferation.

Speaking to ambassadors accredited to the Holy See, Francis denounced the “pall of silence” among world leaders about the long-running war in Syria, the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and the intensified fighting in Libya in his global roundup of areas of concern for the Catholic Church.

Vatican officials and Christian leaders in Iraq have voiced alarm about the Jan. 3 airstrike that killed Qassem Soleimani, and what it means for Iraq’s already beleaguered Christian minorities. - AP

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