Pope invites Israeli and Palestinian leaders to Vatican

Pope Francis has invited the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to the Vatican to "pray for peace".

"In this, the birthplace of the Prince of Peace, I wish to invite you, President Mahmoud Abbas, together with President Shimon Peres, to join me in heartfelt prayer to God for the gift of peace," the Pope said at an open-air Mass in Bethlehem.

People gather for an open-air Mass led by Pope Francis in Bethlehem's Manger Square.
People gather for an open-air Mass led by Pope Francis in Bethlehem's Manger Square. Credit: REUTERS/Ammar Awad

"I offer my home in the Vatican as a place for this encounter of prayer," Pope Francis said, in what Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi described as an unprecedented papal initiative.

Read: Pope urges end to 'unacceptable' Middle East conflict

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