Vatican Delegation in Israel To Plan Papal Trip

JERUSALEM (AP) - A delegation from the Vatican has met with Israeli President Shimon Peres to start preparing for a visit to the Holy Land by Pope Benedict.

A statement from Peres' office says he invited the pope to visit Israel, and the pontiff is considering a trip next year. No official announcement has been made.

Peres' statement says it would be a great honor for Israel to host the pope and "strengthen the message of peace, reconciliation and hope in the entire Middle East." The statement adds, "All are now waiting for an official Vatican declaration regarding the planned visit."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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