Pope Francis Hosts Erdogan, Chaldean Clergy From Iraq

Feb 06, 2018, 14:09
Pope Francis Hosts Erdogan, Chaldean Clergy From Iraq

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said before leaving Turkey on Sunday that the United States is "alone" in the Trump administration's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The pope and Erdogan previously met in Turkey in 2014.

Along with Erdoğan, Pope Francis was among the prominent global leaders criticizing the United States' decision last December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

At the conclusion of the 50-minute audience, lengthy by papal standards, Francis presented President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with a medallion depicting an "angel of peace" strangling the "demon of war".

A Kurdish association in Italy organized a sit-in protest by 200 people near the Vatican.

After the Vatican, Erdogan met in the presidential palace of the Quirinale Italian President Sergio Mattarella with whom he had "respectful and frank" talks, sources said.

It is the first such visit by a Turkish leader for 59 years.

The two leaders had "cordial discussions" on the situation in Turkey, the condition of the Catholic community there, and Turkey's efforts in receiving and hosting refugees, according to a Vatican statement. The sources said that long-standing positions were reiterated, Italy's in line with those of the European Union, in relation to the main issues on the agenda. "This gift symbolizes a world based on peace and justice".

The Vatican is in favor of a two-state solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians and hopes that both sides reach a consensus on the status of Jerusalem - which houses sacred sites for Muslims, Jews and Christians.

Anti-Erdogan demonstrators took to the streets of Rome during the visit, with at least one person injured and two arrested in scuffles with the security forces. Rome also issued a 24-hour ban on demonstrations.

Erdoğan was also expected to meet with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican's secretary of state.

Far-right Brothers of Italy party also protested, expressing on Twitter their stand against "Turkey in Europe".