The Pope has arrived in the Turkey at the start of a highly-charged four-day trip, the first of his pontificate to a mainly Muslim country. Benedict XVI has described his visit as an opportunity for reconcilliation and dialogue between Christians and Muslims In a last-minute change of plan, he was met at the airport by the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Formerly an opponent to Turkey joining the EU, the Pope has reportedly told Erdogan that he has changed his mind and now supports Ankara’s membership bid. The Pope angered many Muslims in September, on another foreign trip – to Germany – with remarks that seemed to describe Islam as an violent religion. He later expressed regret for the pain caused by the comments – which he stressed were not his own views – but failed to give a full apology.