Erdoğan, Pope Francis discuss Jerusalem

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited Pope Francis on Monday at the Vatican, where they discussed conflicts in the Middle East and the controversy over Jerusalem, which U.S. President Donald Trump recognised as Israel’s capital last December, Reuters reports.

Jerusalem is at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict, with Israel claiming the whole city, and Palestine East Jerusalem, as their capital.

Trump’s move to recognise the city as Israel’s capital was opposed by Pope Francis, and roundly condemned by 57 Muslim countries, whose representatives met last December at an extraordinary summit of the Organisation of Islamic Conference in Istanbul to respond to Trump’s announcement.

Erdoğan and Pope Francis had a 50-minute private discussion on Jerusalem and the “need to promote peace and stability in the region” at Monday’s meeting, the first visit of a Turkish president to the Vatican in 59 years.

Pope Francis presented Erdoğan with a medallion “showing an angel embracing the northern and southern hemispheres while overcoming the opposition of a dragon”, according to Reuters.

“This is the angel of peace who strangles the demon of war,” the Pope told Erdoğan, whose country is currently engaged in a military incursion, Operation Olive Branch, into a northwest Syrian area held by Kurdish fighters.

A 150-person authorised protest near the meeting, including Kurdish activists, reportedly turned violent when demonstrators attempted to break through the police barrier.