Pope Francis on Saturday called Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas “an angel of peace” during a meeting in the Vatican, according to the AFP news agency.
The summit took place days after the Vatican said it was willing to sign its first treaty with “Palestine,” an expression of the Holy See’s declared policy of recognizing Palestinian statehood in defiance of Israeli objections.
Abbas and the pope met privately for 20 minutes, according to the report. AFP quotes a statement released by the Holy See calling for a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
"The hope was expressed that direct negotiations between the parties be resumed in order to find a just and lasting solution to the conflict,” the statement read.
"To this end the wish was reiterated that, with the support of the international community, Israelis and Palestinians may take with determination courageous decisions to promote peace."
The pontiff reportedly gave the Palestinian leader a medal with a figure of the angel of peace "which destroys the evil spirit of war.”
"I thought of you because you are an angel of peace," he told Abbas, according to AFP.