VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is seeking to rekindle the dream of peace by bringing the Israeli and Palestinian presidents together this weekend for a unique common prayer for peace in the Vatican gardens.
It will be the first time such a meeting has ever taken place at the Vatican and marks the first time in over a year that Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have met.
Vatican officials insisted Friday the Sunday evening prayer represented a "pause in politics" and had no political aim other than to re-ignite the desire for Israeli-Palestinian peace that was perhaps at its high when Peres and Abbas signed the Oslo peace accords in 1993.
The latest round of U.S.-sponsored peace talks collapsed in failure in April. Francis issued the invitation to Peres and Abbas to come to "my home" to pray for peace during his recent trip to the Middle East.
"Naturally no one has the presumption to think that after this peace will suddenly break out in the Holy Land," the Rev. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, custodian of the Catholic Church's properties in the Holy Land, told reporters.
"The intent of this initiative is to reopen a path that has perhaps been closed for some time, to recreate the desire, the possibility, the dream."
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