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Photo by: REUTERS
Abbas, Ashton ring in Christmas at midnight mass in Bethlehem
By REUTERS
25/12/2013
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Fouad Twal, led the mass in the Church of the Nativity.
 
Hundreds of worshipers attended a midnight Christmas Eve mass in the West Bank town of Bethlehem in the late hours of Tuesday.

Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Fouad Twal, led the mass in the Church of the Nativity, believed by millions of Christians to be located at the exact spot of the birth of Jesus.

The mass in Bethlehem attracted hundreds of tourists from around the world and was also attended by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.

European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, was the guest of honor at the special service. Ashton's office said that no diplomatic meetings will be held during her visit to Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

"We are all invited to hope and join the angel's choirs to make our land, the land of the religions, to make it a peaceful and blessing land for all people," Twal said as he led the mass in the early hours of Tuesday (December 25).

The Palestinian tourism ministry said tourism numbers had increased with 50,000 foreign and local pilgrims arriving in Bethlehem on Christmas eve.
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