News / Middle East

Abbas Meets Pope, Invites Him to Visit Holy Land

Pope Francis talks to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (L) during a private audience in the pontiff library at the Vatican, Oct. 17, 2013.
Pope Francis talks to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (L) during a private audience in the pontiff library at the Vatican, Oct. 17, 2013.
Reuters
 Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday invited Pope Francis to visit the Holy Land, matching an invitation from Israel.

The pontiff, who has made many appeals for peace in the Middle East since his election in March, has already told Israel he will visit and is widely expected to make the trip next year.

“I invited him to the Holy Land,” Abbas said after a 30-minute private audience with the pope in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, their first meeting.

After the private part of the meeting, the pope gave Abbas a pen, telling him “surely, you have a lot of things you have to sign.”

Abbas responded: “I hope to sign a peace treaty with Israel with this pen.”

Both of Francis's two immediate predecessors, Benedict and John Paul, visited Holy Land sites in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Most Christian Holy Land sites are in Israel but Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, is in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, in the Palestinian territories.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where Jesus is said to have been buried, is in East Jerusalem, which Palestinians want as part of their future state.

Abbas and Francis discussed the civil war in Syria and the prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, the Vatican said in a statement.

Using the same language it used when Israeli President Shimon Peres visited Francis in April, the Vatican urged both sides to make “courageous and determined” decisions to move closer to peace, with the help of the international community.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators began a new round of talks on Monday, picking up the tempo of their meetings at the request of the United States.

The two sides resumed direct peace negotiations in late July after three years of stalemate and have conducted a series of discussions far from the gaze of the media over recent weeks, without any outward hint of the slightest breakthrough.

You May Like

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriagei
X
May 21, 2015 4:14 AM
The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.
Video

Video Women to March for Peace Between Koreas

Prominent female activists from around the world plan to march through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea to call for peace between the two neighbors, divided for more than 60 years. The event, taking place May 24, marks the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament and has been approved by both Koreas. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan Following Record High Poppy Crops

Afghanistan has seen record high poppy crops during the last few years - and the result has been an alarming rise in illegal drug use and addiction in the war-torn country. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem has this report from Kabul.
Video

Video America’s Front Lawn Gets Overhaul

America’s front yard is getting a much-needed overhaul. Almost two kilometers of lawn stretch from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument. But the expanse of grass known as the National Mall has taken a beating over the years. Now workers are in the middle of restoring the lush, green carpet that fronts some of Washington’s best-known sights. VOA’s Steve Baragona took a look.

VOA Blogs