Rome bans protests as Turkish President Erdogan visits Pope Francis

Posted February 08, 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday that 935 terrorists have been "neutralized" since Turkey launched a military offensive against Syria's Afrin held by Kurdish militia on January 20.

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.

"Of course, we also have martyrs", the president told reporters in Istanbul prior to his departure for the Vatican for a visit.

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Sound Off! supporters weigh in. Their meeting was multi-sided importance.

Aided by interpreters, Pope Francis and Erdogan also focused on "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 through dialogue and negotiation, with respect for human rights and worldwide law".

Erdogan also expressed his gratitude for the welcome while the pope thanked the Turkish president for the official visit.

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Erdogan and the pontiff "spoke about the situation in Turkey, the condition of the Catholic community, efforts to accommodate refugees and the challenges linked to this", the Vatican said in a statement after the audience. They instead stressed that all actors must avoid any provocative remarks promoting this false equivalency. The pontiff acknowledged a unsafe stereotype stigmatising Muslims was gaining ground.

Italian news website Ansa also reported two arrests and claimed one man had been injured after protestors resisted police attempts to remove them from the sit-in and attempted to march towards St Peter's Square.

Erdogan's delegation included first lady Emine Erdogan, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci, National Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli, EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik and Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Berat Albayrak.

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It was a gift that issued an implicit message: the pugnacious Turkish leader who has dominated the political landscape of his country for more than 15 years should build peace in the Middle East thought negotiated political settlements rather than military action.