By Philip Pullella
Pope Francis (R) greets Israeli President Shimon Peres during a private meeting at the Vatican, April 30, 2013. REUTERS/Ettore Ferrari/Pool
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis urged Israelis and Palestinians to resume talks and make "courageous decisions" to bring peace after his first meeting with Israel's President Shimon Peres on Tuesday and accepted an invitation to visit the Holy Land.
The pope hoped for "a speedy resumption of negotiations" to reach an agreement that respected the legitimate aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians, the Vatican said.
Peres told the pope he believed "there is a chance" to open negotiations and called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas "a genuine partner for peace", an Israeli statement added.
"I am expecting you in Jerusalem, not just me but the whole country of Israel," Peres told the pope in the presence of reporters after the talks.
A statement from Peres said he and the pope discussed anti-Semitism and quoted the pope as telling Peres: "Anti-Semitism goes against Christianity - as Pope I will not tolerate any expression of anti-Semitism".
Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, has focused on building up relations with Jewish leaders and, when he was archbishop, wrote a book with an Argentine rabbi, Abraham Skorka.
Both of Francis's two immediate predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, visited the Holy Land, including the Palestinian territories, in 2000 and 2009 respectively.
(Editing by Andrew Heavens)