VATICAN CITY (AP) — Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will join Pope Francis for an afternoon of prayer at the Vatican on June 8, the Vatican said Thursday.
In a brief statement, the Vatican said both sides accepted the date for the prayer meeting, which Francis suggested during his recent trip to the Middle East. Both men immediately agreed.
Francis has stressed that the Vatican is not seeking to jumpstart peace negotiations between the two sides, but merely bring them together to pray. He said he had arranged for a rabbi and a Muslim cleric to lead the prayers, along with him.
‘‘It will be a prayer meeting. It’s not to do mediation or find solutions,’’ he told reporters on the flight home from Jerusalem on Monday. ‘‘We'll meet just to pray, and then everyone will go home. But I think praying is important, praying together.’’
He called both Abbas and Peres ‘‘men of peace.’’
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