After slipup, Israeli PM to meet pope next week

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli prime minister's office says Benjamin Netanyahu will travel to Italy next week to meet with Pope Francis.

Sunday's announcement follows a similar one last month that was later rescinded after the Vatican said no meeting was actually scheduled. Netanyahu's office says the premier will fly to the Vatican on Dec. 1 for a two-day visit that will include his first meeting with the new pope.

Francis met last month with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Israeli President Shimon Peres, who serves in a largely ceremonial position, met the head of the Catholic church in April. The Vatican and Israel established diplomatic relations in 1993.

Francis is expected to make a visit to the Holy Land next year to meet Israeli and Palestinian leaders, as well as religious leaders.

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