**Pope Benedict Prays for Peace in Christmas Message**
Pope Benedict prayed for peace, especially in the Middle East, in his Christmas Eve mass, as Christians around the world prepared to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ more than 2,000 years ago.
Addressing the faithful in a packed St. Peter's Basilica late Monday, the pontiff called for an end to the bloodshed in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and their neighbors. He also prayed that the Israelis and Palestinians may be able to live together in peace.
Thousands of tourists from all over the world gathered in the West Bank town of Bethlehem to celebrate the holiday at the place where Christians believe Jesus was born.
This year's holiday was particularly joyous for their Palestinian hosts, who just last month received United Nations recognition for an independent state of Palestine.
In his annual pre-Christmas homily, the top Roman Catholic bishop in the area, Fouad Twal, celebrated that achievement for the Palestinians and urged them to work with the Israelis to end the region's seemingly endless conflict.
Despite cold weather, the festivities continued late into the evening, with some tourists calling it a moving experience.
** A Burmese passenger Jet made a forced landing on a road in Burma **
Two people are dead after a Burmese passenger jet was forced to make an emergency landing Tuesday morning in eastern Shan state.
The Air Bagan plane, carrying 65 passengers and six crew members on a flight from Rangoon, landed on a road about three kilometers from Heho airport. Shan state is home to Inle Lake, a popular tourist destination.
The dead includes an 11-year-old passenger and a man riding a motorcycle on the road. Officials say 11 people were injured, including the pilot and four foreign passengers. The cause of the crash is not known, but the French news agency is quoting a government official who says the crew reported a fire in one of the plane's engines as it approached the airport.