Palestinians' Abbas invites Pope Francis to the Holy Land
October 17, 2013 -- Updated 1255 GMT (2055 HKT)
Pope Francis talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during an audience on October 17, 2013 at the Vatican.
- Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas invites Pope Francis to the Holy Land
- The Holy Land is a biblical region referring to Israel and the Palestinian territories
- The Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, visited the Holy Land in 2009
Jerusalem (CNN) -- Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday invited Pope Francis to travel to the Middle East.
The Palestinian ambassador to the Vatican, Issa Kassissieh, told CNN that while on a visit to the Vatican, Abbas had "extended an official invitation to Pope Francis ... to visit the Holy Land and Palestine."
Opinion: Pope Francis inspires us to do more good
The Holy Land is a biblical region that includes Israel and the Palestinian territories.
The Vatican has not yet said whether the pontiff intends to take up the invitation.
Pope Francis leads the charge on reform
Pope Francis visits Assisi
Since he was elected Pope in March, Francis has spoken of the common ground shared by people of different faiths.
Addressing pilgrims Sunday, he asked them to "pray for peace in the Middle East: in Syria, in Iraq, in Egypt, in Lebanon and in the Holy Land, where the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, was born."
Opinion: The Pope's revolutionary message
Pope Francis met with Israeli President Shimon Peres at the Vatican in April.
A Vatican communique issued after that meeting said they had discussed the hope for a speedy resumption of direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians.
"Hope was expressed that this may assist in reaching an agreement that is respectful of the legitimate aspirations of the two peoples and capable of bringing lasting peace to the Holy Land and to the entire region," the statement said.
The Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, visited the Holy Land in May 2009.
CNN's Kareem Khadder reported from Jerusalem and Laura Smith-Spark wrote in London. CNN's Sara Mazloumsaki contributed to this report.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0242 GMT (1042 HKT)
Successful launch of lunar orbiter, seen as a precursor for a planned mission to the surface of the moon, marks significant advance for the country's space program.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1915 GMT (0315 HKT)
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, shot while standing guard at Ottawa's National War Memorial, was known for his easygoing manner and smile.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
Non-stop chatter about actress' appearance is nasty, cruel, hurtful, invasive and sexist.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 2208 GMT (0608 HKT)
CEO's 30-min Putonghua chat is the perfect charm offensive for Facebook's last untapped market.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0345 GMT (1145 HKT)
Chinese leaders want less odd architecture built in the country.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2058 GMT (0458 HKT)
Air New Zealand's new 'Hobbit' safety video stars Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, elves and orcs.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1414 GMT (2214 HKT)
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0333 GMT (1133 HKT)
After sushi and ramen, beef is on the list of must-eats for many visitors to Japan.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1607 GMT (0007 HKT)
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 1748 GMT (0148 HKT)
Scientists use CT scans to recreate a life-size image of the ancient king.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0959 GMT (1759 HKT)
Despite billions spent on eradicating poppy production, Afghan farmers are growing bumper crops, a U.S. government report says.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1021 GMT (1821 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.