Pope Francis on Saturday joined Morocco’s King Mohammed VI in saying Jerusalem should be a “symbol of peaceful coexistence” for Christians, Jews, and Muslims, on the first day of a visit to the North African country.

The spiritual leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics was invited by King Mohammed VI for the sake of “interreligious dialogue”, according to Moroccan authorities.

In a joint statement, the two leaders said Jerusalem was “common patrimony of humanity and especially the followers of the three monotheistic religions.”

“The specific multi-religious character, the spiritual dimension and the particular cultural identity of Jerusalem… must be protected and promoted,” they said in the declaration released by the Vatican as the pontiff visited Rabat.

The Moroccan king chairs a committee created by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to safeguard and restore Jerusalem’s religious, cultural, and architectural heritage.

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