The U.S. Department of State announced on Tuesday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to Istanbul, Turkey to discuss religious freedom issues with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
“Secretary Pompeo will travel to Istanbul, Turkey to meet with His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, to discuss religious issues in Turkey and the region and to promote our strong stance on religious freedom around the world”, the State Department announcement read, making no mention of other meetings with government leaders.
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy slammed Pompeo’s visit and the statement “as extremely inappropriate,” insisting that the country protects the rights of citizens of various faiths to freely practice their religions.
“It would be more advisable for the United States to look in the mirror first and to show the necessary sensitivity to human rights violations such as racism, Islamophobia and hate crimes in its own country,” the Turkish ministry said in a statement.
“In many parts of the world, religious minorities, especially Muslims, have to perform their worship under unfavorable conditions and under threat, while our non-Muslim citizens can freely understand their religious obligations in our country, and the freedom of worship of our citizens belonging to different faiths is protected. Therefore, the statements used in this regard in the statement of the US Secretary of State’s visit to our country are extremely inappropriate”, Aksoy said.
“Our reaction on this matter was conveyed to the U.S. side, and it was suggested that (Washington) focus on increasing cooperation between our countries on regional and global issues,” the Foreign Ministry said.
Furthermore, it was reported in the London-based Middle East Eye that Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has decided not to see Pompeo during his visit to Istanbul.
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