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Rome Reports

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President of Turkey in Vatican to speak about Jerusalem following Trump's statements

Pope Francis met in the Vatican with the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The last time a Turkish head of state visited the Vatican was 59 years ago

The greeting was restrained, but lasted a few seconds...

“How are you?”

“I'm well, and you?”

The meeting was proposed by the Turkish president, following Donald Trump announcing his intent to move the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, an act that would exacerbate religious tension in the city. 

The Holy Father and his guest held a private encounter for nearly 50 minutes, while these meetings rarely exceed a half hour. 

Pope Francis and Erdogan discussed bilateral relations between the two states, the humanitarian crisis in Syria, the Catholic community's current situation in Turkey and the conflict between Jerusalem and Palestine. 

Relations between the Vatican and Turkey have had their ups and downs. Pope Francis' public condemnation of Turkey's genocide of Armenians in 1915 seemed to unsettle the current Turkish leader. 

Benedict XVI's comments on Islam in his Ratisbona address in 2006 didn't sit well either. 

Following an extended dialogue, Pope Francis met with the president's wife and his daughter, Ezra. 

Then, they exchanged gifts. The president presented the pope with a hand-made ceramic image containing Istanbul's landmarks as well as four books by Persian poet Rumi. 

“Beautiful, beautiful.”

Pope Francis gave the president a medal with an angel.

He also presented him with this etching of St. Peter's Basilica and a copy of his Laudato si' encyclical along with his message for the World Day of Peace. 

Before bidding farewell, the pope asked Erdogan's wife to pray for him. 

Pope Francis last visited Turkey in 2014. Since then, relations between both states have suffered minor breakdowns, which the Holy Father hopes to resolve through dialogue.