The Vatican on Saturday urged Iraqi President Barham Saleh to guarantee the safety of Christians and ensure they have a future place in the war-battered country.
Saleh met with Pope Francis, the Vatican secretary of state and foreign minister during back-to-back audiences Saturday, his second visit to the Vatican.
The Holy See says the meetings focused on promoting peace and security in Iraq, especially for Christian minorities, many of whom have fled communities that date from the time of Christ to escape persecution by Islamic State militants.
In a statement, the Vatican said the meetings covered the "importance of preserving the historical presence of Christians in the country, of which they are an integral part, and the significant contribution they bring to the reconstruction of the social fabric, highlighting the need to guarantee their security and a place in the future of Iraq."
Francis had expressed hope of visiting Iraq this year, but no trip has been confirmed and it's unclear if it will be given the turmoil unleashed by the U.S. drone strike on Iraqi soil that killed a top Iranian general.
The attack provoked the ire of Iraqi officials and led to the passing of a non-binding resolution by Iraqi lawmakers to oust U.S. troops.
The Vatican hinted at the rising tensions, saying the discussions underlined the need for the international community to "re-establish trust and peaceful co-existence."
During the meeting, Saleh gave Francis a replica of the Code of Hammurabi, the ancient set of Babylonian laws, calling it a "symbol of peace."
Francis, for his part, gave Saleh a medallion and a set of his major teaching documents, including one on Christian-Muslim fraternity. He told Saleh he wanted an Iraqi identity card identifying him as a descendant of Abraham, a figure common to Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
The death toll from a strong earthquake that rocked eastern Turkey climbed to 22 Saturday, with more than 1,000 people injured, officials said.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, speaking at a televized news conference near the epicenter of the quake, said 39 people had been rescued from the rubble of collapsed buildings, including a woman recovered 14 hours after the main tremor.
Rescue workers were continuing to search for people buried under the rubble of collapsed buildings in Elazig province and neighboring Malatya, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said earlier.
Emergency workers and security forces distributed tents, beds and blankets as overnight temperatures dropped below freezing in the affected areas. Mosques, schools, sports halls and student dormitories were opened for hundreds who left their homes after the quake.
"The earthquake was very severe, we desperately ran out (of our home)," Emre Gocer told the state-run Anadolu news agency as he sheltered with his family at a sports hall in the town of Sivrice in Elazig. "We don't have a safe place to stay right now."
The quake hit Friday at 8:55 p.m. local time (1755 GMT) at a depth of 6.7 kilometers (around 4 miles) near Sivrice, the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, or AFAD, said. Various earthquake monitoring centers gave magnitudes ranging from 6.5 to 6.8.
AFAD said it was followed by 228 aftershocks, the strongest with magnitudes 5.4 and 5.1.
At least five buildings in Sivrice and 25 in Malatya province were destroyed, said Environment and Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum. Hundreds of other structures were damaged and made unsafe.
Soylu said 18 people were killed in Elazig and four in Malatya. Some 1,030 people were hurt. Speaking at the same news conference, Koca said 34 people remain in intensive care.
Television footage showed emergency workers removing two people from the wreckage of a collapsed building in the town of Gezin. Another person was saved in the city of Elazig, the provincial capital, and two more from a house in Doganyol, Malatya.
A prison in Adiyaman, 110 kilometers (70 miles) southwest of the epicenter, was evacuated after being damaged in the quake.
AFAD said 28 rescue teams had been working around the clock. More than 2,600 personnel from 39 of Turkey's 81 provinces were sent to the disaster site.
"Our biggest hope is that the death toll does not rise," Parliament Speaker Mustafa Sentop said.
Communication companies announced free telephone and internet services for residents in the quake-hit region, while Turkish Airlines announced extra flights.
Soylu said emergency work was proceeding under the threat of aftershocks.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Twitter overnight that all measures were being taken to "ensure that the earthquake that occurred in Elazig and was felt in many provinces is overcome with the least amount of loss."
Neighboring Greece, which is at odds with Turkey over maritime boundaries and gas exploitation rights, offered to send rescue crews should they be needed.
Elazig is some 565 kilometers (350 miles) east of the Turkish capital, Ankara.
Turkey sits on top of two major fault lines and earthquakes are frequent. Two strong earthquakes struck northwest Turkey in 1999, killing around 18,000 people.
A magnitude 6 earthquake killed 51 people in Elazig in 2010.
When Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi walked into the International Court of Justice last month, she gambled the remaining shreds of her hard-won international reputation on a rebuttal of accusations that her country's military committed genocide against minority Rohingya Muslims.
The court was not persuaded. This past week, it ordered Myanmar to take all possible measures to prevent genocide against the Rohingya.
Suu Kyi's willingness to defend human rights abuses on the global stage was a move more likely aimed at burnishing her nationalist credential at home rather than swaying the court.
For her former admirers, Suu Kyi's defense only underlined her responsibility for failing to at least speak out in defense of the Rohingya.
"With this ICJ ruling, she has suffered a spectacular fall from grace," said Bill Richardson, a former U.S. congressman and U.N. ambassador. "She has gone from a Nobel Prize champion of democracy to just another dictator wanting to maintain her power by defending military repression, genocide, and the banishment of the Rohingya."
After taking the helm of Myanmar's nascent pro-democracy movement in 1988, Suu Kyi's brave defiance of military rule, at high personal cost, made her the object of worldwide adulation. She won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, cited for being "one of the most extraordinary examples of civil courage in Asia in recent decades."
When her nonviolent struggle finally paid off in 2015 with a smashing election victory by her National League for Democracy party, there was optimism that Myanmar had finally turned a corner after decades of military rule.
Former President Barack Obama commended Suu Kyi for "her tireless efforts and sacrifice over so many years to promote a more inclusive, peaceful, and democratic" Myanmar.
Then came the crackdown.
In 2017, Myanmar security forces launched a counterinsurgency operation in western Rakhine state that, compelling evidence shows, involved mass rape, killings and the burning of entire villages. More than 700,000 Rohingya fled to neighboring Bangladesh, reluctant to return until their basic rights including citizenship are guaranteed.
As the magnitude of the Rohingya tragedy emerged, 1984 Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu felt compelled to appeal to Suu Kyi.
"My dear sister: If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep," the South African wrote in an open letter.
"We pray for you to speak out for justice, human rights and the unity of your people. We pray for you to intervene," he wrote.
Richardson is less diplomatic in expressing his dismay.
He had accepted Suu Kyi's invitation to join an advisory board on the Rakhine crisis. But in early 2018, when he suggested to Suu Kyi that two Reuters reporters arrested for exposing abuse by the security forces be released, she reacted furiously. Disillusioned, he quit the board.
"I could see the reformer and former champion of democracy ... turning into a power-loving and entrenched leader," he said. "She was becoming an apologist for the military so she could hold onto her power and get reelected. She simply could not tolerate any dissent, even from her longtime friends and supporters like myself."
Myanmar's government spokesman Zaw Htay rejected multiple phone calls Saturday seeking comment on the criticism.
Ahead of this week's court ruling, Suu Kyi wrote an op-ed in the Financial Times newspaper in which she said "international condemnation" had a "negative effect" on efforts to make progress in Rakhine.
"It has undermined painstaking domestic efforts to establish co-operation between the military and the civilian government," she wrote. "It hampers our ability to lay the foundation for sustainable development in a very diverse country."
Political realities play an important role in Suu Kyi's position. Despite her party's landslide election victory, the military retains huge influence in government due to clauses it inserted in the constitution. She has no direct control over the security forces.
To exercise real power, her party must mobilize popular and electoral support.
After she led her country's delegation at the initial hearings last month at the International Court of Justice, she returned to Myanmar to cheering crowds lining the streets.
"Undoubtedly, ahead of an election year, her decision to personally defend the case, making it about her, and using it as an opportunity to whip up nationalism, has boosted her public support ahead of an election year," wrote Burma Campaign UK, a lobbying group that had been her ally against military rule.
There's also a more personal aspect to Suu Kyi's predicament, some expert say.
Her father, Gen. Aung San, was the country's independence hero. She was only 2 years old when he was assassinated by political rivals in 1947, a year before freedom from Britain.
"Although she talks a lot about democracy, I think she has a more messianic concept of her present and future role, based on her father's reputation," David Steinberg, a professor of Asian Studies at Georgetown University, said in an email interview last month.
Suu Kyi entered Myanmar's politics in 1988, when she returned from a life spent mostly abroad to nurse her dying mother. She became swept up in a popular revolt against military rule, and shot to fame as her father's daughter with a speech to hundreds of thousands of people.
"Her moral authority in Myanmar is predicated on the aura of her father and what he represents, and in the fact that she came in to 'save the country' in 1988 and endured so many years under house arrest," said Jane Ferguson, a senior lecturer in anthropology at The Australian National University.
Asked once in a BBC interview about her reputation as a saintly figure, Suu Kyi replied: "I am just a politician. I am not quite like Margaret Thatcher, no, but on the other hand, I am no Mother Teresa either. I have never said that I was. Mahatma Gandhi, actually, was a very astute politician."
The interim government of Bolivia has suspended diplomatic relations with Cuba due to alleged interference in the country by the Cuban government, the Bolivian Minister of the Presidency, Yerko Nunez, announced on Friday.
"We have made the decision to suspend diplomatic relations with the Republic of Cuba. This decision is due to recent impermissible declarations by the (Cuban) foreign minister, Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla," Nunez stated at a press conference in La Paz.
According to Nunez, the Cuban government has disrupted bilateral relations long based on mutual respect and non-interference.
The Bolivian deputy foreign minister, Carlos Zannier, said that this decision will suspend agreements and negotiations with Cuba and will also reduce diplomatic staff in the two countries.
"The government of Cuba has ceased understanding our reality ... and for this reason, we have decided on this action against the Cuban government," Zannier said.
At least nine people died and many more were injured on Friday in a bus accident in southwestern Colombia, said the deputy commander of the Rosas Fire Brigade, Victor Valencia.
The bus, which was traveling on the Pan-American Highway on the Popayan-La Cruz route, collided with some rocks near the town of Rosas in the Cauca department and then overturned.
"Many people were trapped inside the damaged vehicle, the others were taken to healthcare centers in towns such as Popayan," Valencia said.
He explained the cause of the accident is unknown, however brake failure has yet to be ruled out.