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President Erdogan meets Pope Francis


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met Pope Francis as part of his two-day visit to the Vatican which saw him being welcomed with an official ceremony at the Apostolic Palace. During the visit, they discussed the status of Jerusalem, regional issues, the humanitarian tragedy in Syria, and the fight against terrorism, xenophobia and Islamophobia. The two leaders underlined that “equating Islam with terror is wrong”, according to Turkish sources, with Erdoğan telling the pope that Turkey values people from all religions, including Catholics, living in harmony and peace. Turkish sources said Erdoğan and Pope Francis agreed that “joint steps are needed to mobilize the international community to forge regional peace and stability” and to not be silent to ongoing humanitarian crises. A Vatican statement said the talks “[included] the status of Jerusalem, highlighting the need to promote peace and stability in the region [Middle East] through dialogue and negotiation, with respect for human rights and international law”. In fact, Pope Francis was one of the international leaders criticizing the United States’ decision last December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Following his visit to the Vatican, Erdoğan will meet his counterpart Italian President Sergio Mattarella at a working lunch in Rome. Italian Deputy Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni will also be present.During the meetings, the leaders will discuss cooperation in various areas, including politics, the economy and the defense industry. Some 3,500 police and security forces were Rome and authorities declared a no-go area for unauthorized demonstrations. An authorized demonstration of about 150 people including Kurds and their supporters outside nearby Castel Sant‘Angelo turned violent. Italian police said two people were detained after demonstrators tried to break through cordons to get closer to the Vatican from an authorized protest several blocks away.

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