Anglican head meets holy land religious leaders

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Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby met local religious leaders in Jerusalem on Thursday and invited them to visit him in London, Israeli officials said.

Welby is on his first trip to the Holy Land since taking office in March but had visited the region before becoming the leader of the world's 80 million Anglicans, his office said.

“Archbishop Justin is making this trip early in his ministry because of the significance of the region, the importance of the relationships that his Office has there, and because he is keenly aware of the particular pressures on the region at the moment - not least the devastating conflict in Syria,” it said.

“The Archbishop, who has visited the Middle East several times prior to taking on his new role, is deeply concerned for justice and for the security of all the peoples of the region, and the pressures on its Christian communities.”

Since arriving from Jordan on Wednesday, Welby has visited Christian, Muslim and Jewish sites, including the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

“We hope that we will see the same kind of cooperation that we had with his predecessor, both in terms of the relationship and in terms of dialogue,” the Israeli foreign ministry said.

On Thursday he met Israeli President Shimon Peres and then had lunch with leaders of various faiths.

“He extended an invitation to them to come to visit,” an Israeli official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Welby was due to visit Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas later on Thursday and return home on Friday, the official said.

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