Published: Tue, February 06, 2018
Global | By Enrique Rogers

Turkish president meets pope, anticipated to debate Jerusalem

Turkish president meets pope, anticipated to debate Jerusalem

Recep Tayyip Erdogan became the first Turkish president to visit the Pope in the Vatican in almost six decades on Monday.

In an interview with the Italian daily ahead of his visit, Erdogan declared the status of Jerusalem was "a central issue for both Muslims and Christians".

They also said Trump's move was "an announcement of the United States administration's withdrawal from its role as sponsor of peace" in the Middle East, echoing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Erdogan would address the issue of Jerusalem during his meeting with the Pope, said La Stampa newspaper quoting the Turkish leader.

"No nation in the world has a right to take unilateral steps on a city which is dear to billions of people, ignoring worldwide laws".

Syria, the migrant crisis, Islamophobia, and racism also are on Francis and Erdogan's discussion list.

They were holding signs calling Turkey a state-sponsor of terrorism, as well as photos of the civilian victims of the Turkish military offensive.

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At the end of the private part of the meeting, the pope gave Erdoğan a bronze medallion showing an angel embracing the northern and southern hemispheres while overcoming the opposition of a dragon.

"This is the angel of peace who strangles the demon of war", the pope told Erdogan.

The pope and Erdogan previously met when Francis visited Turkey in 2014.

Erdogan arrived in Rome amid heavy security measures for a two-day visit that was to include meetings with Italian authorities and business leaders.

Despite the ban on protests, there was a planned sit-in of around 200 people near the Vatican, organised by an Italian Kurdish association. Nevertheless, a small group of Kurdish protesters gathered near the Vatican to accuse the Turkish leader of being a "dictator", a "criminal" and that he had "blood on his hands".

President Erdoğan also communicated the latest information on Turkey's Operation Olive Branch against the PKK terror organization's Syrian affiliate, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing the Peoples' Protection Units (YPG), in Syria's northwestern province of Afrin.

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