VATICAN CITY - Israeli President Shimon Peres says Pope Francis should use his influence to press for peace in the Middle East, and has invited the pontiff to visit the Holy Land.
The Israeli Nobel Peace Prize laureate met the new pontiff Tuesday. Peres also met with Italian political leaders.
Peres spoke to the pope about peace negotiations with the Palestinians and the potential threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.
He said the pope has an important role in advancing peace.
Popes Benedict XVI, John Paul II and Paul VI all made pilgrimages to the Holy Land.
Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombard said Francis welcomed the invitation to visit Israel but added that no such trip is on the pontiff's immediate agenda.