Pope Ends Cuba Trip, on to US
Pope Francis headed for the United States Tuesday, shortly after celebrating a third and final Mass in Santiago, Cuba, urging Cubans to rediscover their Catholic heritage and live a “revolution of tenderness."
Francis spoke at a Mass at the Basilica of the Virgin of Charity of El Cobre, the country's holiest shrine, with President Raul Castro attending.
The pope's homily in a country whose 1959 revolution installed an atheist, communist government that sought to replace the church as a guiding force in people's lives was the latest in a series of carefully worded critiques of the Cuban system during his four-day trip.
During a visit to the shrine Monday, the pope prayed for reconciliation among all Cubans, both at home and around the world.
Kerry: Russian Planes in Syria for 'Force Protection'
Secretary of State John Kerry says U.S. military experts believe the Russian planes sent to an air base in Syria are there for basic "force protection," intended to protect Russian soldiers and assets already on the ground.
But Kerry said Tuesday it is still not clear what Russia's long-term intentions are for boosting its military presence in Syria. He said if Russia is looking for a sphere of influence in the Middle East, it is going about it in a very odd way, by backing a Syrian government responsible for atrocities.
Russia has said it wants to defeat Islamic State, but has refused to join the U.S.-led coalition that shares the same goal.
Kerry said he hopes Russia and Iran - another major Syrian ally - are prepared to work for peace in Syria.
The United Nations envoy on Syria launched another effort Tuesday to open peace talks on Syria. Staffan de Mistura announced the heads of four "thematic" working groups. The plan calls for Syrian parties to participate in discussions within the groups looking at political and legal issues, military matters and counterterrorism.
The 2012 Geneva Communique on Syria sets out a road map for a democratic transition and remains the basis for a peaceful settlement.
It includes an interim government ahead of a democratic election. But the U.S. has said Assad has no place in Syria's future.