ISTANBUL – U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo met Tuesday with the Istanbul-based religious chief of the world’s Orthodox Christians throughout a brief journey to Turkey that has raised the ire of Turkish officers and consists of no conferences with any of them.
Pompeo, who’s on a seven-country tour of Europe and the Center East, tweeted photos of him being greeted by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the chief of some 300 million Orthodox Christians, after being proven across the Patriarchate. He was additionally scheduled to fulfill with the apostolic nuncio to Turkey, Archbishop Paul Russell.
The talks had been to middle on non secular freedoms in Turkey, which has angered Ankara and prompted officers to name on Washington to give attention to human rights violations in america.
Final week, Turkey issued a sharply-worded assertion criticizing Pompeo’s plans and mentioned Washington ought to “have a look at the mirror” and cope with points reminiscent of racism, Islamophobia and hate crimes.
However the talks went forward, and Pompeo on Tuesday tweeted that “as chief of the Orthodox world” Bartholomew “is a key accomplice as we proceed to champion non secular freedom across the globe.”
The journey comes amid already frayed ties between the 2 NATO allies over a collection of points, regardless that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. President Donald Trump have maintained pleasant private ties.
These embody Turkey’s choice to buy Russia’s S-400 anti-aircraft system, which Washington says is a risk to its F-35 fighter plane. Washington has kicked Turkey out of the F-35 program and has additionally threatened to sanction the nation.
Senior State Division officers mentioned the dearth of official conferences in Turkey was as a result of scheduling points through the temporary cease. They mentioned conferences had been sought however Turkish officers had been unable to return to Istanbul from the capital of Ankara through the time Pompeo can be there. The officers famous that Pompeo and his Turkish counterpart plan to see one another in early December at a gathering of NATO international ministers.
Turkish media stories mentioned Turkish officers had been giving Pompeo the cold-shoulder, after he allegedly refused to journey to the capital to pay an official go to. A senior Turkish International Ministry official wouldn’t touch upon the stories or say why Pompeo wasn’t assembly with Turkish officers.
Turkey insists that it protects the rights of residents of varied faiths to freely apply their religions regardless that it not too long ago drew criticism for reconverting Istanbul’s landmark Haghia Sophia right into a mosque, ignoring requires the previous cathedral to be stored as a museum in recognition of town’s multicultural previous.
In the meantime, round 25 members of a left-wing nationalist group staged a short demonstration close to the Patriarchate below heavy police presence, protesting Pompeo for assembly with Bartholomew as an alternative of state officers. The demonstrators chanted “Down with U.S. imperialism,” based on Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Company.
Later stops on Pompeo’s tour will embody visits to Israeli settlements within the West Financial institution which have been prevented by earlier secretaries of state.
Fraser reported from Ankara, Turkey.
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