Pope Francis walks to the top of the stairs leading to the plane as he leaves to his trip to the holy land from Rome's Fiumicino international airport on May 24, 2014
Pope Francis walks to the top of the stairs leading to the plane as he leaves to his trip to the holy land from Rome's Fiumicino international airport on May 24, 2014 © Filippo Monteforte - AFP
Pope Francis walks to the top of the stairs leading to the plane as he leaves to his trip to the holy land from Rome's Fiumicino international airport on May 24, 2014
AFP
Last updated: May 24, 2014

Pope lands in Jordan at start of Middle East visit

Pope Francis arrived in Jordan Saturday on the first leg of a Middle East tour aimed at bettering relations with Jews and Muslims and easing an ancient rift within Christianity.

The pontiff smiled as he walked down the steps from his plane and was greeted by a military salute. He shook hands with political and religious dignitaries, before receiving bouquets of flowers from two children dressed in traditional Jordanian costume.

The 77-year-old pontiff then walked down a red carpet with Prince Ghazi bin Mohammed, King Abdullah II's religious affairs adviser, who offered him a cup of Arabic coffee in a small sitting room.

He was then escorted to a small white car, which set off for the royal palace in a long motorcade greeted by screaming fans holding banners reading "Long live the pope!"

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