Pope, on trip to Panama, says fear of migrants makes people crazy
By Philip Pullella and Diego Oré PANAMA CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis wasted no time wading in on the standoff over funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall on Wednesday as he started his trip to Panama, saying on the plane from Rome that hostility to immigrants was driven by irrational fear. In a brief conversation between the pope and journalists on the flight, one reporter described the barrier that juts out into the Pacific Ocean between the two countries in San Diego, California, as a 'folly'
By Philip Pullella and Diego Oré
PANAMA CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis wasted no time wading in on the standoff over funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall on Wednesday as he started his trip to Panama, saying on the plane from Rome that hostility to immigrants was driven by irrational fear.
In a brief conversation between the pope and journalists on the flight, one reporter described the barrier that juts out into the Pacific Ocean between the two countries in San Diego, California, as a "folly".
Francis, who has made defence of migrants a key part of his papacy, responded: "Fear makes us crazy".
President Donald Trump, with whom the pope has sparred before on immigration, has triggered a U.S. government shutdown over demands for $5.7 billion in funding for a wall along the United States' southern border.
Immigration is expected to be one of the main themes of Francis's six-day trip. The pope met eight refugees in Rome before heading to the airport for his 13-hour flight to Panama for World Youth Day.
Since mid-October, thousands of Central Americans, mostly from Honduras, have travelled north to the United States through Mexico in caravans, some walking much of the way.
Many are seeking asylum, saying they suffer from rampant crime and bleak opportunities in their native countries.
"Nobody wants to leave their country but young Salvadorans are doing it searching for opportunities, employment, security," said Edwin Valiente, a 28-year-old architecture student who came to Panama from El Salvador for Francis' visit.
Francis, on his first trip to Panama and the first by a pope since 1983, was greeted at the airport by President Juan Carlos Varela and thousands of cheering children.
World Youth Day has been dubbed the "Catholic Woodstock", a jamboree where young people celebrate their faith and discuss social issues. It is held in a different city every three years.
About 150,000 have registered for this year's event, being held in Latin America for only the third time since Pope John Paul instituted it in 1985.
Several hundred thousand people are expected at the final Mass at a park on Sunday that will be open to all visitors and citizens of the country of 4 million people, which is about 89 percent Catholic.
(Additional reorting by Elida Moreno; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.