Pope Francis on Wednesday expressed his concern about the situation in Venezuela and issued a call for an end to the violence in the country and in support of reconciliation via dialogue.

"I am following with particular apprehension what is occurring these days in Venezuela. I support an end to the violence and hostilities as soon as possible and, above all, for the Venezuelan people, starting with the politicians and institutions, to come to reconciliation," said the first Latin American pontiff during the traditional Wednesday audience.

The Argentine pope also called for "a sincere dialogue" so that "justice that deals with concrete issues for the common good" may be implemented.

Thirteen people have died in Venezuela since a wave of protests against the leftist government of President Nicolás Maduro began on Feb. 12.

Fatalities have included both opponents and supporters of the government.

On Nov. 6, Pope Francis - at a private audience - received Venezuelan opposition leader and twice-defeated presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, who came to The Vatican bearing numerous letters from young Venezuelans which he delivered to the pontiff.

Francis had received Maduro last June.

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