MIDDLE EAST

Islamic prayers to be held at the Vatican

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (R) welcomes Pope Francis upon Francis' arrival to the West Bank town of Bethlehem, May 25, 2014. (Reuters)

For the first time in history, Islamic prayers and readings from the Quran will be heard at the Vatican on Sunday, in a move by Pope Francis to usher in peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Francis issued the invitation to Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during his visit last week to Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority.

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Abbas, Peres, and Francis will be joined by Jewish, Christian and Islamic religious leaders, a statement released by Peres’s spokesperson said, according to the Times of Israel.

Holy See officials on Friday said the evening prayers would be a “pause in politics” and had no political aim other than to rekindle the desire for Israeli-Palestinian peace at the political and popular level, according to the Associated Press.

Low expectations

The Vatican will broadcast a live feed of the event to viewers across the world.

However, expectations for the event should be kept low, according to Rev. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the custodian of Catholic Church property in the Holy Land.

[No-one should think] “peace will suddenly break out on Monday, or that peace is any closer,” AP reported him as saying.

On Friday, the Pope met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and discussed ways of promoting peace and stability in Asia the Vatican said in a statement.

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Last Update: Monday, 9 June 2014 KSA 14:26 - GMT 11:26
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Pope Francis issued invitations to Palestine’s Mahmoud Abbas and Israel’s Shimon Peres
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