Pope Francis to Palestinian clergy: Respect is first precondition for dialogue

Hours before US President Donald Trump delivers a long-awaited keynote that, according to a number of analysts, will put a point on Washington's almost 70-year-old political line for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Roman Catholic Church leader said he supported the status quo in Jerusalem, AFP reports.

Arab leaders have warned the Trump administration's decision would subvert decades of US foreign policy and risk triggering further conflicts and violence in the Middle East. Francis emphasized that the Vatican has long supported the Bangladeshi people's desire to be an independent nation and their will to promote religious freedom. 2 trip to Burma, also called Myanmar, and Bangladesh.

The pope said he was "profoundly concerned" about recent developments regarding Jerusalem, which he called a "special vocation for peace" and a sacred place for Christians, Jews and Muslims.

Trump will make the announcement in a speech Wednesday - which will be closely watched by other world leaders who fear the move will undermine peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians and spark protests across the Middle East.

"My thoughts now turn to Jerusalem", the Pope said before the large crowd assembled in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall for his weekly General Audience.

The pope, who spoke to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas about the crises on Tuesday, made his comments to a group of visiting Palestinians involved in the interfaith dialogue with the Vatican.

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The change is a recognition of "reality", officials said, both the historic reality that Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish nation since ancient times and the modern reality that the city is the seat of Israel's government, housing its legislature, supreme court, prime minister, and executive agencies.

"They came to the Vatican with the intention of establishing a joint working group".

Burma, a majority-Buddhist country where minorities, including Christians, often face stigma and discrimination, is still working to transition to a democratic government after more than 50 years of military rule, while also facing harsh criticism from the global community over what the United Nations has called a "textbook case of ethnic cleansing" of Rohingya Muslims from the country's Rakhine state.

Renewed conflict broke out in the Gaza Strip soon after.

Religious freedom was a major theme, as reflected in each of his meetings, he said, and underlined the importance of "openness of the heart as the basis for the culture of encounter, harmony and peace".

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