People hold Palestinian flags as they wait for the Pope's Sunday angelus prayer on Saint Peter's square in the Vatican on June 8, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ALBERTO PIZZOLI
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Vatican officials insist no political agenda is lurking behind Pope Francis' invitation to the Israeli and Palestinian presidents to pray for peace together in the Vatican gardens, and no concrete initiatives are expected.Francis showed himself a master of improvisation and surprise during his trip to the Mideast, stopping to pray at the Israeli security barrier surrounding Bethlehem and then, at Israel's request, changing his busy itinerary to pray at a memorial to Jews killed in suicide bombings and other attacks.But it was his invitation to Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas -- two men who signed the Oslo peace accords in 1993 -- to come to "my home" to pray for peace that captured imaginations and led to Sunday's common call for peace on a patch of lawn inside the Vatican walls.
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