Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan assured Turks on Friday that Pope Benedict XVI clearly expressed his desire to see Turkey join the European Union. A statement was issued by the prime minister's office in response to Turkish media reports that questioned comment Erdogan made Tuesday after a brief meeting with Benedict, saying the pope was supporting Turkey's candidacy. "In the meeting, Pope Benedict XVI has clearly expressed his desire to see Turkey in the European Union," the statement said. "He has said that he thinks Turkey could have positive contributions to the European Union by showing that different religions and cultures could live together." The Vatican has said only that it sees the steps that Turkey is taking to meet EU membership requirements as positive.