CAIRO (AP) — The Latest on Pope Francis' visit to Egypt (all times local):

8:10 p.m.

Pope Francis and the Coptic Orthodox pope, Tawadros II, are pledging they won't require faithful who switch churches to get re-baptized.

The two popes signed a joint declaration on Friday, at the end of their meeting at the Orthodox Patriarchate in Cairo on the first day of Francis' two-day visit.

In the declaration, they pledged to continue working to heal their schism and praised steps taken so far. In a new initiative, they say that they "will seek sincerely not to repeat the baptism that has been administered in either of our Churches for any person who wishes to join the other."

Catholic converts to the Coptic Orthodox Church are required to be re-baptized.

Francis has made a point of pushing for such joint declarations in all his ecumenical meetings as a way of forging greater unity between Christian Catholics and the Orthodox.

Later the two spiritual leaders held a prayer service for the victims of a December suicide bombing at the Coptic cathedral that killed 30 people, most of them women.

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7:45 p.m.

The spiritual leader of Egypt's Orthodox Christians has told Pope Francis that recent attacks targeting churches in Egypt have laid bare the resilience of Egyptians who remain united in the face of terror.

Pope Tawadros II's comments came in a ceremony held at Cairo's St. Mark's Cathedral, seat of the Coptic Orthodox Church, which was attended by the Catholic pontiff who is on a historic visit to Egypt.

Since December, at least 75 people have been killed in three bombings targeting churches — one in Cairo and two in cities to the north. The local affiliate of the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Tawadros also said that "our predicament is that of an integrated nation whose hearts will not be separated by those who have ulterior motives. This sets an example to all generations."

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7:25 p.m.

Pope Francis has praised Egypt's Coptic Christians who have died rather than renounce their faith, saying that "their innocent blood unites us" and is helping heal the historic divisions between Catholics and Orthodox.

The Catholic pontiff spoke at the Coptic Orthodox cathedral on Friday, the first day of his two-day trip to Egypt, telling the Egyptian Copts that "your sufferings are also our sufferings."

Francis is making the trip to Egypt to comfort the Christian community, after a December suicide bombing outside cathedral killed 20 people. More recently, twin Palm Sunday attacks in churches in Alexandria and Tanta killed at least 45.

Francis asked: "How many martyrs in this land, from the first centuries of Christianity, have lived their faith heroically to the end, shedding their blood rather than denying the Lord."

"Even in recent days tragically, the innocent blood of defenseless Christians was cruelly shed; their innocent blood unites us."

Francis has frequently spoken of the "ecumenism of blood" — a reference to the way Christian leaders have united to denounce the indiscriminate attacks on Christians of all denominations from Islamic extremists in Iraq, Syria, Egypt and elsewhere.

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6:30 p.m.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi says Islamic militants committing acts of terror in the name of religion cannot claim to be Muslims.

The general-turned-president spoke on Friday alongside Pope Francis on the first day of the Catholic pontiffs' historic visit to Egypt, a trip primarily designed to forge a united Christian-Muslim front to defeat religious militancy.

El-Sissi also called for a comprehensive strategy to defeat terror and said Egyptians are made to pay an "exorbitant price" but that they were determined to defeat it.

The president said that "true Islam does not command the killing of the innocent."

Egypt has for years been battling an insurgency by Islamic militants centered in northern Sinai and led by a local affiliate of the Islamic State group in northern Sinai.

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6 p.m.

Pope Francis is strongly backing Egypt's efforts to crack down on Islamic militancy, saying the country has a special role to play in forging regional peace and in "vanquishing all violence and terrorism."

During a speech in Cairo on Friday to Egyptian officials and diplomats from around the world, Francis also praised Egypt's president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, for repudiating religiously-inspired attacks, while also insisting on the "unconditional respect for inalienable human rights."

Previously, popes have called on foreign leaders to address the underlying social and economic injustices that can breed terrorism.

But Francis is taking that call further, encouraging el-Sissi's efforts to break an Islamic State insurgency that is increasingly targeting Egypt's Coptic Christian minority.

The pontiff says that "Egypt, in the days of Joseph, saved other peoples from famine; today it is called to save this beloved region from a famine of love and fraternity."

"It is called to condemn and vanquish all violence and terrorism. ... Egypt, in building peace and at the same time combatting terrorism, is called to give proof that religion belongs to God and the nation to all."

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4:55 p.m.

Pope Francis is urging Egypt's leading imams to teach their students to reject violence in God's name and preach peace, dialogue and reconciliation — not instigation to conflict.

Francis made the remarks on Friday during a landmark visit to Egypt's Al Azhar university, the revered, 1,000-year-old seat of learning in Sunni Islam that trains clerics and scholars from around the world.

Francis recalled that Egypt's ancient civilization valued the quest for knowledge and open-minded education, and that a similar commitment is required today to combat what he called the "barbarity" of religious extremism.

Francis spoke to the grand imam, Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, and other clerics on the first day of a two-day visit to Cairo.

He says religious leaders were obliged to "expose attempts to justify every form of hatred in the name of religion, and to condemn these attempts as idolatrous cariacatures of God."

Francis was interrupted with applause several times.

While el-Tayeb has strongly condemned Islamic extremism, Egypt's pro-government media has accused Al-Azhar of failing to do enough to reform the religious discourse in Islam.

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4:45 p.m.

Speaking alongside Pope Francis, Egypt's top imam and the head of the world's primary seat of Sunni Islamic learning, Al-Azhar, says the ground has been paved for "monotheistic" religions to play their role in realizing equality, justice and the human rights.

Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb says there are more "barbarian" attacks in today's world than at any time in history.

He says Egypt's Al-Azhar was working on reinforcing a culture of co-existence and respect for dialogue.

El-Tayeb chairs the Al-Azhar. Francis arrived in Egypt earlier on Friday.

—Corrects that el-Tayeb said "monotheistic," not "monolithic."

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4 p.m.

Pope Francis has arrived at Al-Azhar, the world's primary seat of Sunni Islamic learning, on the first day of a historic visit to Egypt designed to forge a united Christian-Muslim front against religious militancy.

The Catholic pontiff headed to Al-Azhar on Friday after meeting President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who briefly hosted his guest at the presidential Ittihadya palace, giving him an official welcome, complete with a military band playing the national anthems of the Vatican and Egypt.

The Pope is scheduled later to attend and address an international peace conference hosted by Al-Azhar and chaired by its grand imam, Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb. He will also meet Pope Tawadros II, spiritual leader of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church, followed by the majority of Egypt's estimated nine million Christians.

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2:45 .m.

Pope Francis has met Egypt's president at the start of a historic, two-day visit to the Muslim majority Arab nation fighting an insurgency by Islamic militants.

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on Friday received the Catholic pontiff at his opulent Ittihadya palace, where a military band played the national anthems of the Vatican and Egypt as both leaders stood in attention.

Francis departed Cairo airport with the window of his blue fiat rolled down, in keeping with his wishes for a normal car and not an armored motorcade.

The Pope's visit is designed to forge a united Christian-Muslim front against religious militancy and it is toward that aim that he will attend later Friday an international peace conference organized by Al-Azhar, the world's primary seat of Sunni Islamic learning.

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2:20 p.m.

Pope Francis has arrived for a historic visit to Egypt, where he was received at Cairo airport by Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and top Christian clerics.

Members of Egypt's Presidential Guard lined up along the red carpet laid at the foot of his Alitalia plane and stretching all the way to the presidential lounge at one side of the airport. Two children, a girl in a white dress and a boy in a black tuxedo, presented the Catholic pontiff with bouquets of flowers.

The Pope was scheduled later Friday to meet with President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Pope Tawadros II, spiritual leader of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church. He will also participate in an international peace conference organized by Al-Azhar, the world's primary seat of Sunni Islamic learning.

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2 p.m.

Pope Francis has arrived in Egypt for a historic, two-day visit to show a united Christian-Muslim front against religious militancy.

The Catholic pontiff will hold a series of deeply symbolic meetings with Egypt's religious and political leaders and participate in an international peace conference organized by Al-Azhar, the world's primary seat of Sunni Islamic learning.

He will also show solidarity and bring a message of peace to a country that has for years endured an increasingly emboldened insurgency led by a local affiliate of the extremist Islamic State group.

The pope's Friday-Saturday visit will also lift the spirits of Egypt's large Christian community after three suicide bombings since December hit their churches, killing at least 75 people. IS claimed responsibility for the attacks.

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12:15 p.m.

In Zamalek, an upscale neighborhood on a Nile River island where Pope Francis will overnight in Cairo, streets that will be used by the pontiff's motorcade have been emptied of parked cars.

Some nearby side streets have been blocked for Francis' two-day visit that starts Friday afternoon. Security has also been visibly tightened in the neighborhood, with uniformed and plainclothes police deployed along routes expected to be used by Francis and his entourage.

The pope's visit, however, is unlikely to cause much disruption to the city of some 18 million people as it falls on the Muslim, Friday-Saturday weekend when the usually congested traffic is significantly lighter.

Francis is brushing off security concerns to forge ahead with a two-day trip to Egypt aimed at presenting a united Christian-Muslim front that repudiates violence committed in God's name.

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11:55 a.m.

Security men are posted every hundred yards or so along the 20-kilometer (12-mile) stretch between the airport and central Cairo in anticipation of Pope Francis' arrival in Egypt.

Armored cars are stationed in front of the presidential palace, where Francis makes his first stop Friday.

Banners in the Zamalek neighborhood welcomed Francis, with one from a private company saying "1,000,000 workers of Sharm el Sheikh welcome the pontiff."

Francis is brushing off security concerns to forge ahead with a two-day trip to Egypt aimed at presenting a united Christian-Muslim front that repudiates violence committed in God's name.

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8:40 a.m.

Pope Francis is brushing off security concerns to forge ahead with a two-day trip to Egypt aimed at presenting a united Christian-Muslim front that repudiates violence committed in God's name.

Three weeks after Islamic militants staged twin Palm Sunday church attacks, Francis lands in Cairo on Friday for a series of deeply symbolic encounters with Egypt's religious and political leadership. He will meet with Egypt's president, patriarch and the "other" pope, Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and pray for victims of the attacks.

Most importantly, he will also visit Al-Azhar, the revered 1,000-year-old seat of learning in Sunni Islam. There, he will meet privately with grand imam Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, and participate in an international peace conference Friday afternoon.