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Pope to Visit Jordan at Start of Mideast Trip

Pope Benedict XVI is expected to visit Muslim leaders at the start of his May visit to holy sites in Jordan, Israel and the West Bank.

A representative of the Roman Catholic Church in Jordan, Rifat Bader, said on Tuesday the pope's trip will include a stop at King Hussein Mosque in Amman. He said the pope will use the visit to emphasize the importance of coexistence between religions.

During his Jordan trip, Pope Benedict will also travel to Mount Nebo, a place of significance to Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

He will also stop at a spot on the Jordan River believed to be the site of Jesus' baptism.

The pope is then traveling to Israel, where he will visit Jerusalem and Nazareth. He will also visit Bethlehem in the West Bank.

Pope Benedict angered many Jewish groups last month when he lifted the ex-communication of a bishop who denies Jews were killed in gas chambers during the Holocaust. Working to ease tensions, the pope last week told a group of American Jews visiting the Vatican that it is "intolerable" to minimize the Holocaust.

The pope has also had uneasy relations with Muslims in recent years, sparking outrage among some by quoting a medieval critic linking Islam with violence. He made efforts to repair ties with a visit in 2006 to Turkey's famed Blue Mosque, where he took part in prayers.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.