VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is wading head-first into Mideast peace-making, welcoming the Israeli and Palestinian presidents to the Vatican for an evening of peace prayers just weeks after the last round of U.S.-sponsored negotiations collapsed.
Israeli President Shimon Peres was the first to arrive Sunday at the Vatican hotel where Francis lives, to be followed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Francis warmly embraced Peres and they headed into a private meeting.
Vatican officials have insisted that Francis has no political agenda by inviting the two leaders to pray at his home other than to rekindle a desire for peace among the two parties. But the meeting could have significance on the ground beyond mere symbolism.