Talks underway for possible pope visit to Israel to push peace — report
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Talks underway for possible pope visit to Israel to push peace — report

Francis may travel to region in the fall to advocate accord; advance delegation said expected next month

Pope Francis addresses journalists during the traditional press conference on his flight back to Rome, following a two-day visit at Fatima, Portugal, May 13, 2017. (Tiziana Fabi/Pool via AP)
Pope Francis addresses journalists during the traditional press conference on his flight back to Rome, following a two-day visit at Fatima, Portugal, May 13, 2017. (Tiziana Fabi/Pool via AP)

Israeli and Vatican officials have launched talks to discuss the possibility of Pope Francis paying a visit to Israel and the wider region in a bid to push peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

A Vatican delegation is expected in Israel next month and is looking at three possible dates for a potential visit this coming fall, Channel 10 reported Thursday, citing unnamed Vatican sources.

There was no immediate confirmation from the Vatican.

The report came a day after the pope met with US President Donald Trump in Rome. Trump on Tuesday wrapped up a Middle East visit that included Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Saudi Arabia.

In Israel, Trump indicated that he wants to pursue the “ultimate deal” and would like to help facilitate peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. He has tasked his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and former real estate lawyer Jason Greenblatt with charting a course forward. Greenblatt stayed on after the trip and has been holding follow-up meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials.

Pope Francis (R) exchanges gifts with US President Donald Trump during a private audience at the Vatican on May 24, 2017 (AFP PHOTO / POOL / Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis (R) exchanges gifts with US President Donald Trump during a private audience at the Vatican on May 24, 2017 (AFP PHOTO / POOL / Alessandra Tarantino)

After his “fantastic” meeting with the pope on Wednesday, the US president vowed to pursue peace around the world.

The pontiff has repeatedly called on Israelis and Palestinians to seek a peace deal, most recently in January.

The pope visited Israel in 2014, embarking on a three-day trip that also saw him visit the Palestinian Authority.

In Israel, he prayed at the Western Wall, leaving a handwritten note with the “Our Father” prayer written in his native Spanish, honored Holocaust victims by kissing the hands of several survivors, and accepted Israel’s request to pray at a memorial to victims of suicide bombings and other attacks.

Pope Francis places a prayer paper at the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site of prayer, in Jerusalem's Old City on May 26, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/Thomas Coex)
Pope Francis places a prayer paper at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site of prayer, in Jerusalem’s Old City on May 26, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/Thomas Coex)
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