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Turkey’s president to meet Pope Francis, discuss Jerusalem

February 4, 2018

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan holds olive branches as he addresses his party members in Batman, Turkey, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018. The Turkish military says two of its soldiers have been killed in Syria and a third was killed on the Turkish side of the border in an attack by Syrian Kurdish militiamen.(Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Pool Photo via AP)

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey’s president is on his way to Italy to meet Pope Francis at the Vatican, where the status of Jerusalem is expected to top their agenda Monday.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said before leaving Turkey on Sunday that the United States is “alone” in the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Erdogan said Turkey leads 1.7 billion Muslims worldwide since the country currently holds the term presidency of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the pope is “number one” among Catholics.

He noted: “These two important blocks are in fact decisive elements in this region,” emphasizing Jerusalem’s importance to several world religions.

Syria, the migrant crisis, Islamophobia and racism also are on Francis and Erdogan’s discussion list.

Erdogan is scheduled to meet Italy’s president and prime minister.

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