Turkish prime minister praises recent papal visit

Turkey's prime minister praised Pope Benedict XVI's recent visit to the predominantly Muslim country and expressed hope that his message of greater understanding and dialogue with Islam would be spread around the world. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who agreed almost at the last minute to meet the pope at the airport on his arrival for the Nov. 28-Dec. 1 pilgrimage, said the pontiff's visit defied the expectations of some people because "we had very positive developments." "The pope's messages in Istanbul and Izmir were very positive and very important, and I believe that to those who expected a clash of civilizations based on this visit, they were proven wrong," Erdogan told a news conference. "The messages that the pope communicated in Ankara and Istanbul were very positive and I hope that those messages continue to grow and disseminate around the world," he said.