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.
Part of complete coverage on
December 9, 2013 -- Updated 1558 GMT (2358 HKT)
The Web is set to change our lives over the next decade. This will also question the use of personal data and balancing new powers with ethics.
December 9, 2013 -- Updated 0111 GMT (0911 HKT)
The image of the Shinkansen bullet train streaking past Mount Fuji is a powerful part of the iconography of the resurgent post-war Japan.
December 9, 2013 -- Updated 2023 GMT (0423 HKT)
Imagine the delight at unwrapping your Christmas present in 2043 and discovering you've been gifted a trip around the Moon.
December 9, 2013 -- Updated 0727 GMT (1527 HKT)
A new political party claiming to champion ordinary Indian voters makes a startling electoral debut.
Few words in Hungarian, including place names, are easily recognizable to foreigners.
December 9, 2013 -- Updated 1744 GMT (0144 HKT)
Browse through images you don't always see in news reports, taken by CNN teams all around the world.
December 9, 2013 -- Updated 1234 GMT (2034 HKT)
Walking into one of Yayoi Kusama's infinity rooms is like walking into a completely different universe.
December 9, 2013 -- Updated 1529 GMT (2329 HKT)
Meet Tony Allen -- famous for helping create Afrobeat by fusing different beats and patterns.
December 8, 2013 -- Updated 2116 GMT (0516 HKT)
Fans converged on the site where Paul Walker died to pay tribute to the actor. CNN's Paul Vercammen reports.
He was imprisoned for life but that did not quiet him. Nelson Mandela became South Africa's first black president, and an icon and inspiration.
December 9, 2013 -- Updated 1002 GMT (1802 HKT)
Watching digital artist Kyle Lambert's stunning photo-realistic iPad paintings emerge from a blank screen is an awe-inspiring experience.
Today's five most popular stories