Pope Francis arrives in Turkey for 3-day tourtext_fields
Ankara: Pope Francis arrived at the Esenboga Airport in the Turkish capital of Ankara Friday afternoon for his first visit to Turkey since he took over the post in March last year.
The three-day tour is the fourth visit by a pope to Muslim-majority Turkey.
Turkish foreign ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgic told reporters Thursday that the issue of "alliance of civilisations, dialogue between cultures, xenophobia, the fight against racism and political developments in the region" would be on the agenda during the trip, according to Xinhua.
During his visit to Ankara, Pope Francis, the religious leader of the world's Catholics, will deliver a speech to representatives of diplomatic missions and the press in Turkey's controversial new Ak Saray presidential palace, followed by an address at the Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet).
He will be hosted by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics for 12 years, and the Diyanet head Mehmet Gormez.
Saturday, the pope will travel to Turkey's largest city of Istanbul, where he is expected to visit the historic Hagia Sophia Museum and Sultanahmet Mosque. He will be later expected to celebrate mass in the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Harbiye.
After that, the pope will visit the Patriarchal Church of St. George in Istanbul, the seat of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, and meet with Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I for a private meeting.
Although some 80 million citizens of Turkey are Muslims, there are around 120,000 Christians in the country, once the centre of the Orthodox Christian world.