Pope Benedict has urged the world to make efforts to protect Iraq's Christian minority.

In a speech Saturday to Muslim leaders in Jordan, the pontiff called on the international community and local political and religious leaders to try to ensure Iraqi Christians a "right to peaceful coexistence" with other Iraqis.

The pope also called for continued efforts to improve ties between religious groups in Iraq, and he praised those who have helped rebuild institutions and infrastructure in the country.

Since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, Muslim extremists have targeted Iraqi Christians across the country, forcing tens of thousands to flee abroad.

Christians now make up about three percent of Iraq's largely Muslim population.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.