Turkish president meets pope, anticipated to debate Jerusalem

Michele Moreno
February 6, 2018

Turkey won't sacrifice its interests for the sake of European Union accession, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said according to local media on Monday.

Following his visit to the Vatican, Erdoğan will meet his counterpart Italian President Sergio Mattarella at a working lunch in Rome.

According to an official Vatican communiqué, two leaders discussed relations between the Catholic Church and Turkey, the migrant crisis and the status of Jerusalem.

Before leaving Turkey, Erdogan said the United States had isolated itself over Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want to share with the Israelis as their future 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".

Heightened security measures are taken in the Italian capital as the Turkish president is on visit.

Erdogan had been expected to discuss Jerusalem's status after the United States decision to recognise it as Israeli capital.

The protesters held a sit-in outside Castel Sant'Angelo, not far from where Mr Erdogan was scheduled to meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

The pope and the Turkish president also exchanged gifts. While a protest against teh Turkish president's visit was being staged in nearby castel sant'Angelo, in Roma, the two leaders discussed "the situation in the Middle East, with particular reference to the status of Jerusalem, highlighting the need to promote peace and stability in the region via dialogue and negotiation, with respect for human rights and worldwide legality", it said.

Demonstrations against Turkey's military operation in Syria were banned in Rome for the visit, with around 3,500 police deployed to avert protests.

Erdogan and the pope discussed the status of Jerusalem, which has always been regarded sacred by 3 religions. "(It is) a symbol of a world based on peace and justice".

The state-run Anadolu Agency said Mr Erdogan and Francis also expressed the need to avoid "provocative statements that link Islam with terrorism".

Erdogan's schedule also included lunch with Italy's president and a meeting with the Italian premier.

Other reports by Insurance News

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