President Erdogan was welcomed by Pope Francis in Vatican ahead of their one-on-one meeting at the doorsteps of Apostolic Palace. It was the first visit of the Turkish leader to Vatican in 59 years.
The historical meeting of the Turkish national leader and Pope was put under heavy security measures for fear of violent demonstrations. On Monday, two leaders spoke privately for about 50 minutes in the pontiff’s frescoed study in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, which he uses mostly for ceremonial purposes.
The pontiff and Mr Erdogan also exchanged gifts. The Turkish president presented a 24-piece miniature Iznik pottery, which had been made with a ceramics technique popular at the time of Ottoman Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent; he also gave him Mesnevi lectures in Italian and English.
Pope Francis gave Erdogan a bronze medallion showing an angel embracing the northern and southern hemispheres while overcoming the opposition of a dragon.
Pope Francis, Erdogan on Trump’s decision regarding Jerusalem
Both Erdogan and Pope Francis are opposed to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which many U.S. allies say could doom Middle East peace efforts.
The public part of the meeting, with reporters and Erdogan’s entourage, was cordial, although both men seemed stiff at the start while seated at the pope’s desk before journalists were ushered out.
The Turkish President’s motorcade entered a virtually deserted St. Peter’s Square after the streets that are usually bustling with tourists were closed due to security fears.