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April 25, 2013 1:35 am

Israeli President Shimon Peres to Visit Pope Francis at the Vatican

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Israeli President Shimon Peres will visit Pope Francis I at the Vatican next week, becoming one of the first heads of state to visit with the new pontiff.

According to a statement from the Israeli President’s office, “Peres will raise the issue of furthering peace and stability in the Middle East, progressing peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the common struggle against world poverty, and the deepening of relations between Israel and the Vatican and between Christians and the Jewish people.”

Peres will also meet with Italian leaders and members of Italy’s Jewish community. Peres, a Nobel Laureate, will also be presented with the “Medal of Honor for Peace” by Franciscan monks during a visit to Assisi, the home town of the revered St. Francis of Assisi, who is the current pope’s namesake.

Under Pope Francis’s predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, diplomatic ties between Israel and the Vatican grew substantially.  The two states established diplomatic ties in 1993 and recently signed an agreement formalizing their relations and resolving outstanding disputes earlier this year. Peres has already formally invited Pope Francis to visit Israel.

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