Pope Benedict has given his first Easter Sunday speech to nearly 100,000 pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter's Square, calling on world leaders to use diplomacy in resolving global conflicts.
In the traditional Easter address known as "Urbi et Orbi," Latin for "to the city and to the world," the pope expressed concern about Iraq, praying for peace to prevail over the "tragic violence" that continues in the country.
He appealed for "serious and honest" negotiations to resolve the crises linked to nuclear power. He did not mention any country by name, but there has been continuing international concern over nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea.
The pope also mentioned concerns over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the humanitarian situation in Sudan's Darfur region.
Earlier, Benedict led his first Easter Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square, coinciding with his 79th birthday.
Benedict had delivered the Easter message last year on behalf of his predecessor, Pope John Paul, who died a week after Easter.
Easter Sunday is the holiest day in the Christian calendar and is celebrated today by Christians of the Western tradition. It marks the day Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead after his crucifixion three days earlier.