“For some time I have wanted to meet that people who suffered so much, Francis said on Wednesday. “The people of Iraq are waiting for us. They were waiting for St. Pope John Paul II, who was not allowed to go,” he added, referring to a planned trip in 2000 which was canceled after a breakdown in talks between the Vatican and then President Saddam Hussein. “The people cannot be let down for a second time. Let us pray that this trip can be carried out well.”Iraqi officials have hailed the visit as an important moment for the country, while privately admitting that the timing of the trip has proved a challenge for authorities. Iraq has imposed a total curfew for the entirety of the four-day papal visit in an attempt to minimize health and security risks.