The pope also called for an end to weapons imports to Syria, where rebels say they are desperate for an influx of weapons to help them tip the balance against President Bashar Assad's regime. According to activist estimates, some 23,000 people have been killed since the conflict erupted in March 2011.
"The import of weapons must be stopped, because without the weapons the war could not continue," he said. "Instead of the weapons import, which is a grave sin, we should import ideas of peace and creativity and find solutions to accept each other with our differences."
The papal visit comes amid fears that Syria's conflict might ignite tensions in Lebanon. Clashes in Lebanon between Syrian groups in recent months have killed more than two dozen people and left scores wounded.
The Christian community in Lebanon is divided between supporters and opponents of Assad. Among Assad's supporters is former Lebanese prime minister and army commander Michel Aoun, a strong ally of the militant Hezbollah group.
Hezbollah's leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, welcomed the pontiff's visit, describing it as "extraordinary and historic."
"I cannot forget the sad and painful events which have affected your beautiful country along the years," Benedict said, referring to Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war, which left about 150,000 people dead.
"Looking at your country, I also come symbolically to all countries of the Middle East as a pilgrim of peace, as a friend of God and as a friend of all inhabitants of all the countries of the region, whatever their origins and beliefs," he said.
After Friday's ceremony at the airport, Benedict's convoy drove through Beirut as army aircraft flew overhead for protection. The pope was on his way to the mountain town of Harisa, where he will stay at the Vatican Embassy.
Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi did not rule out that the pope would meet some supporters of Hezbollah, a Shiite militant group that has risen steadily over the decades from anti-Israel resistance group into Lebanon's most powerful military and political force. The U.S. considers Hezbollah a terrorist organization. Lombardi declined to say what the Vatican's position is on the group.
Associated Press Writer Bassem Mroue contributed to this story from Beirut.
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