STARY SACZ, Poland (AP) _ In his first comment on Kosovo since NATO troops entered the Serb province, Pope John Paul II prayed Wednesday for the quick return of refugees to their homes and an end to war in the Balkans.

At a Mass attended by about 700,000 faithful in southern Poland, the pontiff noted that Kosovo refugees housed at a nearby center were among the crowd.

``I am happy they found a safe place and a warm welcome in our country,'' the Polish-born pontiff said.

``I ask God for them to be able to return to their homeland as soon as possible and to be able to live there in peace,'' he said.

The pope said he trusted that an ``end will be put soon to the tragedy of war.''

``I appeal to all those responsible for the fate of the inhabitants of the Balkans to stop all action that brings destruction and the suffering of people,'' he said.

Poland has taken in about 1,000 ethnic Albanian refugees from Kosovo.