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Pope talks with Israeli president, accepts invitation for visit to Holy Land

Catholic World News - April 30, 2013

Pope Francis met on April 30 with Israel’s President Shimon Peres, for talks that centered on the prospects for peace in the Middle East.

During the meeting, Peres invited the Pontiff to visit Israel, and Pope Francis accepted “with willingness and joy.” No timetable for a papal trip was mentioned. Peres told the Pope that “the whole country of Israel” was awaiting his visit.

A Vatican statement released after the meeting saying that the Pope had expressed his hopes for a “speedy resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians,” his special concern about the city of Jerusalem, and his worry about the continuing conflict in Syria.

The Pope and President Peres also spoke about relations between Israel and the Holy See. The Vatican statement after the meeting pointed to the “significant progress” in negotiations toward a long-awaited diplomatic pact establishing the legal and economic rights of Catholic entities in Israel, and looked forward to the rapid conclusion of those negotiations.

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