.- The Holy See announced today that the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will meet with Pope Benedict XVI tomorrow as the Holy Father arrives at the Ankara airport. Erdogan had announced previously that scheduling conflicts would not allow him to meet with the Pope.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister’s office said that it would be possible to schedule a meeting prior to Erdogan’s departure for Latvia, where he will participate in a NATO summit November 28th and 29th.
Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to arrive at the airport at 1pm local time and will meet with Erdogan prior to visiting the tomb of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the modern Turkish state.
The Pope’s visit to Turkey will begin tomorrow and end on December 1st.
The Vatican had previously downplayed comments in the international media that the Prime Minister’s absence was an intentional slight aimed at the Pope. Some claimed that members of the Turkish government were avoiding the Pontiff after the violent reaction to his misinterpreted comments on Islam and the prophet Mohammed.
According to the Associated Press, Erdogan's spokesman, Akif Beki, has also confirmed the meeting. News reports in Turkey said the meeting would last 20 minutes, but Beki said he didn't know the duration.