Turkey's Erdogan arrives in Vatican

Turkish president to meet Pope Francis in historic visit to the Vatican

The leader of the Catholic church and the Turkish chief have had many dissimilar views over the years but, the United States' decision to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel weaves a common thread.

Erdogan has previously clashed with the pope when Francis, in 2015, became the first head of the to publicly call the 1915 killing of as many as 1.5 million Armenians "genocide" - something Turkey has always denied.

Erdogan's visit to Italy - the first of its kind in almost 60 years - was also set to include a meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, with illegal immigration, defence and European Union membership likely to feature on the agenda. Francis and Mr Erdogan have made plain their concern over the Trump administration's decision two months ago to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Pope Francis, after leading a holy mass in St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican to mark the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, on February 2, 2018. "This gift symbolizes a world based on peace and justice".

The move was hailed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum.

The pope was also under pressure to confront Mr Erdogan over Turkey's attack on Kurdish militias in Syria causing significant civilian casualties. We spoke several times over the phone during this period. The nonbinding resolution declaring the US action on Jerusalem "null and void" was approved 128-9 in a victory for Palestinians.

"We are virtually being held prisoners at Castel Sant Angelo, not just us but also the journalists who are here", the Kurdistan Network in Italy's spokesman Alessio Arconzo told AKI news agency.

They also addressed "the situation in the Middle East, with particular reference to the status of Jerusalem".

Israel sees the entire city as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians want the eastern sector, which the global community regards as unlawfully annexed by Israel, as the capital of their future state. Feelings are running high following Ankara's military assault on the Kurdish-majority provinces of Afrin in north-west Syria just over the Turkish border.

Ankara's position is made more delicate by the fact that the YPG is allied to the U.S. in its battle against Islamic State group jihadists and that one of Italy's Kurdish associations has strongly opposed the Turkish operation.

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