Pope starts Turkey trip

Published November 28th, 2006 - 12:28 GMT

Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Turkey Tuesday on his first visit to an Islamic ountry, where he will seek to ease anger over his criticism of Islam. The pope's airplane landed in the Turkish capital of Ankara, amid a massive security operation.

 

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomed the pontiff soon after he got off the plane. Erdogan and Pope Benedict later entered the VIP Hall at the airport and held talks.

 

Before departing for Ankara, the pontiff said in Rome that he was embarking on a "trip of dialogue, brotherhood and reconciliation at this difficult moment in history."

 

According to the AP, Turkish police monitored the highway leading to Ankara from the airport.

 

The original goal of the pope's trip to Turkey was to meet Bartholomew I, leader of the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians.

 

Benedict leaves Ankara on Wednesday for Ephesus, where the Virgin Mary is thought to have spent her last years, and will then travel to Istanbul.

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