Pope Francis leaves for three-day Turkey visit

By REUTERS
November 28, 2014 11:35

 
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Pope Francis left Rome on Friday to begin a three-day visit to Turkey and a delicate mission of strengthening ties with Muslim leaders while condemning violence against Christians and other minorities in the Middle East.

His three-day trip comes as Islamic State insurgents have captured swathes of Iraq and Syria just over Turkey's southern borders, declaring an Islamic caliphate and killing or driving out Shi'ite Muslims, Christians and others who do not share their ultra-radical brand of Sunni Islam.

Officials said religious tolerance and fighting extremism would be high on the agenda in Ankara on Friday when Francis meets President Tayyip Erdogan and Mehmet Gormez, the top cleric in the majority-Muslim but constitutionally secular nation.

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