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Pope Francis Receives Turkish President At The Vatican


Pope Francis (right) with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Vatican on February 5.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan met Pope Francis on February 5 at the Vatican amid tight security, with thousands of extra police officers deployed and protests banned in most of central Rome.

A small, authorized Kurdish demonstration against Erdogan's visit was held outside the Vatican.

The two are expected to discuss Jerusalem and the implications of U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize the holy city as the capital of Israel.

Erdogan's office said in a statement that the two would discuss the status of Jerusalem, Turkish-Vatican relations, Syria, the refugee crisis, terrorism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia.

The Vatican supports a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Erdogan's is the first state visit by a Turkish leader to the Vatican in 59 years.

The public part of the meeting was cordial, although both men seemed stiff at the start while seated at the pope's desk before journalists left.

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

Francis and Erdogan last met in 2014 during the pope’s visit to Turkey. They also spoke on the phone in late December.

Relations between Turkey and the Vatican have been strained since June 2016, when Francis referred to the World War I mass killings of Armenians at the hands of Ottoman troops as "genocide."

Ankara rejects the use of the term genocide to describe the killings and reacted by accusing the pope of spreading "lies and slander."

Based on reporting by Reuters and dpa