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Pope Francis waves during his Angelus prayer in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, December 10, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi


MILAN (Reuters) - Pope Francis on Sunday called on world leaders to work in favour of nuclear disarmament to protect human rights, particularly those of weaker and underprivileged people.

The pontiff said that there was a need to "work with determination to build a world without nuclear weapons", speaking from the window of the papal apartment overlooking St. Peter's Square and citing his 2015 encyclical letter Laudato Si (Praised Be).

His remarks came on the day that the group which won this year's Nobel Peace Prize urged nuclear nations to adopt a U.N. treaty banning atomic weapons.

With rising tensions between the United States and North Korea, the pope has repeatedly warned against the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental effects of nuclear devices and has called for a third country to mediate the dispute.

At his weekly Angelus prayer, Pope Francis added that men and women in the world had "the liberty, the intelligence and the capacity to guide technology, limit their power, at the service of peace and true progress".

Speaking aboard the plane back from his trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh, the pope suggested that some world leaders had an "irrational" attitude towards nuclear weapons.

Last month he appeared to harden the Catholic Church's teaching against nuclear weapons, saying countries should not stockpile them, even for the purpose of deterrence.

Pope Francis, a strong defender of environmental protection, also hoped that an upcoming Paris summit would adopt "efficient decisions" to contrast climate change.

(Reporting by Giulia Segreti; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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