Palestinian embassy opens in Vatican City

Pope Francis meets Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the Vatican on Saturday to open a Palestinian embassy.

Story highlights

  • Palestinian president, Pope Francis meet at Vatican
  • Palestinians open state embassy in Vatican City

(CNN)Pope Francis and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met Saturday to open a Palestinian embassy in Vatican City.

"We are very grateful about the role that the Holy See has played for a just and lasting peace in the Holy Land, and for having opened an embassy of Palestine in the Vatican for first time," Abbas said, according to the official Palestinian news agency WAFA.
    "We are proud to be the birthplace of Christianity and about having one of the oldest Christian communities in the world."
    Pope Francis, right, meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during a private audience at the Vatican.
    Issa Kassissieh, the Palestinian ambassador to the Holy See, called the move "a significant achievement for the Palestinian people," WAFA said.
    Israel has yet to respond to news of the opening.
    Many other countries, including Israel, have embassies in Vatican City.
    Vatican policy has long held that a two-state solution is the best road to peace in the Holy Land, and Francis has taken steps to raise the profile of a Palestinian state.
    The Vatican had referred to Palestine as a state since November 2012, when the United Nations voted to recognize it as a nonmember observer state.
    Francis broke ground by formally recognizing Palestinian statehood in a legal document in May 2015.
    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas applauds the opening of the Palestinian Embassy in Vatican City.