Turkish president and Pope meet to discuss Jerusalem

Turkish president and Pope meet to discuss Jerusalem

Kerry Wise
February 6, 2018

Despite previous disagreements, the two leaders found common ground on Jerusalem after the USA unilaterally recognized the city as the capital of Israel.

The visit marks the first time a Turkish president visited the Vatican in 59 years and second time ever.

"These two important blocks are in fact decisive elements in this region", Erdogan noted, while emphasizing Jerusalem's importance to several world religions.

The two men are also expected to discuss the situation in Syria and Iraq as well as humanitarian aid and refugees.

Previously, it was speculated that the pope and Erdogan would also discuss the situation in Syria during the private portion of the meet.

The move was hailed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum.

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Erdo─čan and the pope spoke by phone in December after Trump made his announcement on Jerusalem and agreed that any change to the city's status quo should be avoided.

Last week the Istanbul-based Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew!, who is close to Pope Francis on environmental issues, praised Turkey's military campaign against the Kurds.

"In the process ahead, come on and accept Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine". The pope was a prominent critic of President Donald Trump's decision.

Since then, relations between the USA and the Palestinians have deteriorated with the U.S. cutting off funding for UNRWA, the main United Nations organization that deals with Palestinian welfare and humanitarian issues.

"We are virtually being held prisoners at Castel Sant Angelo, not just us but also the journalists who are here", the Kurdistan Network in Italy's spokesman Alessio Arconzo told AKI news agency. A joint statement reaffirming the city's disputed status is likely and may call on the United Nations and Israel to cooperate with East Jerusalem Palestinians.

The operation is aimed at ousting YPG forces from its border stronghold of Afrin but the Syrian rebel forces and the Turkish army have met strong resistance.

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