Turkish Foreign Minister to be at NATO summit during pope's visit
(turkishdailynews) - Pope Benedict XVI is not expected to meet with government officials during a visit to Turkey that starts later this month.
The pope's tentative schedule includes a visit to Ankara on Nov. 28 to meet with President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, a trip to the ruins of Ephesus on Nov. 29 and a meeting with Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartolomeos in Istanbul on the following day. Benedict is also expected to lead a ceremony at Istanbul's Saint Esprit Cathedral on Dec. 1.
The pontiff is not scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoСЂan or Foreign Minister Abdullah GСЊl, who will attend a NATO summit scheduled for Nov. 28-29 in Riga, Latvia, reports Trend.
Benedict has appealed for greater dialogue with Muslims after a speech he gave at a German university in September sparked anger in the Muslim world. The pope quoted a 14th-century Byzantine emperor who characterized some of the Prophet Mohammed's teachings as evil and inhuman and called Islam a religion spread by the sword.
Since the uproar over the speech -- which has cast a pall over his visit to Turkey --Benedict has expressed his regrets for offending Muslims.
Speaking ahead of a visit by the pope, head of the Religious Affairs Directorate Ali BardakoСЂlu said yesterday that criticism of Islam is a serious threat to world peace. He said that it was "saddening to see Islam being criticized while the religion's contribution to civilization is ignored.
This attitude, which fuels division and lack of mutual trust, is seriously threatening world peace, BardakoСЂlu told a conference in Istanbul attended by several African Muslim leaders. He encouraged Muslim religious leaders to work and correct the false and misleading information about Islam. Today, Muslims must first remember the human values of Islam ... and the collective peace it aimed for and tell and teach this to the world, BardakoСЂlu said.
The pope is also expected to meet with BardakoСЂlu in his first visit to Turkey, which has a predominantly Muslim population.
People meeting does not mean that they approve of each other, BardakoСЂlu told reporters.
Although the official focus of Benedict's trip is scheduled to meet with Bartolomeos, he is widely expected to seize upon it as an opportunity to improve relations with the Muslim world.