Respect status quo in Jerusalem - Pope says

Respect status quo in Jerusalem - Pope says

Respect status quo in Jerusalem - Pope says

Francis said he was "profoundly concerned" about recent developments concerning Jerusalem, and declared the city a unique and sacred place for Christians, Jews and Muslims that has a "special vocation for peace".

President Trump will reportedly announce Wednesday that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and that the State Department will initiate a process to move the USA embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. "At the same time, I appeal strongly for all to respect the city's status quo, in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions", the Pope said in his weekly address, reports AFP.

World leaders have criticized President Donald Trump's decision to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Palestinians insist there is no hope of a peace agreement unless they can use the east of the city as their capital, but the Israelis claim the whole city as their own. The Argentine pontiff called for "wisdom and prudence to avoid adding new elements of tension in a world panorama that is already unharmonious and marked by many cruel conflicts". "And at the same time, I wish to make a heartfelt appeal to ensure that everyone is committed to respecting the status quo of the city, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations".

"The US president and his regional allies will bear responsibility for this decision's unsafe consequences", the official said.

Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson warned that Trump's expected move underlines the urgency of a new US -led Middle East peace plan.

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The conversation was "part of a series of contacts made by the president of the Palestinian National Authority after his conversation with Donald Trump during which - according to Abbas' spokesman - the US president announced his intention to move the American embassy", Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, told Vatican Radio.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman warned his close ally that moving the U.S. embassy was a "dangerous step" that could rile Muslims around the world.

Before making his public comments, Francis met privately with a group of Palestinians involved in inter-religious dialogue with the Vatican.

He spoke of having open communication and holding talks between differing religions "and also in civil society".

"The Holy Land is for us Christians the land par excellence of dialogue between God and mankind", he said.

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