Pope Urges International Leaders to Proceed With Prudence Regarding Jerusalem

Francis spoke by telephone on Tuesday with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, after US President Donald Trump told Mr Abbas of his decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

"At the same time, I would like to make a heartfelt appeal for everyone's commitment to respect the city's status quo, in conformity with the pertinent United Nations resolutions", Pope Francis said to his weekly general audience.

The decision could potentially dismantle 22 years of USA foreign policy in the Middle East and would likely enrage Muslims who view Jerusalem as the potential capital of the Palestinian state. Moreover - similar steps could be interpreted as a clear signal for the rejection of Washington's two-state solution to the conflict in the region.

Francis, former Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul II all visited Israel and Palestinian territories.

According to the 1993 Israel-Palestinian Peace Accords, the final status of Jerusalem will be discussed in the late stages of the talks.

Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, then, is likely to increase tension on the issue, particularly in regards to the 200,000-some settlements Israel has built in East Jerusalem, which are considered illegal under global law, though Israel disputes this stance.

"Jerusalem is a unique city, sacred for Jews, Christians and Muslims", he said, adding that it was home to sites deemed holy by followers of the three major monotheistic faiths.

In 2012, the Vatican called for "an internationally guaranteed special statute" for Jerusalem, aimed at "safeguarding the freedom of religion and of conscience, the identity and sacred character of Jerusalem as a Holy City, (and) respect for, and freedom of, access to its holy places".

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

"They came to the Vatican with the intention of establishing a joint working group". His was the first papal trip to Myanmar, a country that has recently been making headlines all over the world due to what the United Nations has called "textbook ethnic cleansing" of the Rohingya Muslim minority there.

Similarly, he said his November 30-Dec.