By Burcu Calik
ANKARA (AA) – Turkey’s president is scheduled to pay an official visit to the Vatican and Rome on Feb. 4-5, the presidential press office said on Thursday.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet with Pope Francis as well as Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, said a statement by the office.
The leaders are expected to discuss bilateral relations, the latest development on Jerusalem, regional issues, the humanitarian tragedy in Syria, and the fight against terrorism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia.
Along with Erdogan, Francis was one of the most prominent international leaders to criticize the U.S. decision last December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Erdogan’s visit will be the first Turkish presidential trip to the Vatican in 59 years.
Following his visit, Erdogan will meet his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella at a working luncheon in Rome including Italian Deputy Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.
During the meetings, the leaders will discuss cooperation in various areas, including politics, the economy, and the defense industry.
Also expected to be covered are the latest developments in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, Jerusalem, Turkish-EU relations, cooperation against terrorism, and irregular migration.
"Our strategic partner and ally Italy, with which we enjoy excellent relations, is also one of the leading economic partners of our country. President Erdogan is also expected to receive executives of leading Italian firms during his visit to Rome," the statement added.