US President Donald Trump expressed his “strong dissatisfaction” with a decision by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to reconvert Hagia Sophia into a mosque, state-run news agency ANA reported.
The comments were made during a brief meeting between Trump and Archbishop Elpidophoros of America who was visiting the White House for a scheduled meeting with Vice President Mike Pence.
According to the report, the US President expressed his concern on the issue of protection of human rights and especially the religious freedoms of minorities in Turkey.
He also said that “he would proceed immediately with the necessary interventions,” the article says.
During the meeting, the Archbishop of America raised all the key issues concerning the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in particular emphasizing the importance and the need for the reopening of the Theological School of Halki.
In a message after the meeting, Pence said in a tweet that “America will stand firm with the Greek Orthodox Church in the call for Hagia Sophia to remain accessible as a source of inspiration and reflection for every person of every faith.”
“Protecting religious freedom at home and abroad is a foreign policy priority for the United States of America. We cherish the faith and charitable works of the 1.5 million members of the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States.”
On his side, Elpidophoros tweeted that he was “grateful to have met with President Trump and Pence in the White House and communicated our grave dismay at the re-conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque, as well as ongoing security concerns for the Ecumenical Patriarchate and issues of religious liberty.”