Leaders throughout the world deliver Christmas messages

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

International leaders have issued Christmas time messages:

Australia

In his first Christmas address as Australia's Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd called on his nation to drive safely during the holiday season, noting that his father was killed in a vehicle collision in the late 1960s. Rudd also commended the nation's charities for helping the less fortunate, and Australian troops serving abroad.

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The Bahamas

As Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham's extended Christmas greetings, he noted various challenges such as the economic downturn on Grand Bahama island and the heavy rainfall damage sustained in some regions in October and November. The nation prepares to celebrate its Junkanoo festival on Wednesday.

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Belgium

The Christmas and New Year's address of Belgium's King Albert called for national harmony among the national cultures, chiefly the Flemish and Walloon groups. This follows a year in which a national government could not be assembled for many months since elections in June.

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Canada

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Christmas message paid tribute to the nation's generous spirit whose "purest expression today is the Canadian mission in Afghanistan, where our soldiers, diplomats and aid workers are, at great cost to themselves helping the Afghan people rebuild their shattered country." He noted the significant anniversaries to come in 2008 such as the 150 years since the founding of British Columbia colony and the 400 years since Quebec City was created by Samuel de Champlain.

Some controversy arose as the Prime Minister's greeting omitted the Islamic Eid-ul-Adha observance, while including Hanukkah and Christmas.

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Liberia

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia, noted progress in the country's labour and economic situations during her Christmas address.

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Philippines

From the Philippines, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's 's Christmas message included a tribute to the nation's 8 million overseas workers, extending gratitude to their host nations.

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Turkey

Turkish President Abdullah Gül issued a Christmas message on Monday expressing wishes for unity and tolerance in the nation. Although Turkey is a largely Islamic nation, the President indicated its Christian citizens were "equal members of the Turkish nation".

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United States

American President George Bush's brief Christmas statement began with a passage from the Gospel of Luke foretelling the Nativity of Jesus, then gave "thanks for Christ's message of love and mercy" while remembering the nation's "responsibility to serve".

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United Kingdom

Queen Elizabeth's annual Christmas message began and ended footage from her 1957 Christmas address, the first message from a British Monarch to be televised. Her 2007 address mentioned family, the work of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the need for charity. A recently-introduced royal YouTube channel also presented the Queen's Christmas message for Internet viewers.

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The Vatican

Pope Benedict delivered his Christmas "Urbi et orbi" to many thousands at Saint Peter's Square in Vatican City after celebrating the traditional Christmas Midnight Mass service. The pontiff remembered the world's war-torn regions including Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans, calling for the light of Christ to "shine forth and bring consolation to those who live in the darkness of poverty, injustice and war." He decried the various injustices and conflicts, noting these "are destroying the internal fabric of many countries and embittering international relations."

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