US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Istanbul on Tuesday, where his schedule includes meetings with religious leaders but not government officials.
Pompeo’s stop in Turkey is focused on promoting religious freedom and fighting religious persecution, which is a key priority for the US administration, officials said.
Pompeo discussed religious issues with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Vartholomaios I, considered the “first among equals” in the Orthodox world, and with the apostolic nuncio to Turkey, Archbishop Paul Russell.
Secretary Pompeo also toured the Patriarchal Church of St. George in Istanbul.
Senior State Department officials said the lack of official meetings in Turkey was due to scheduling issues during the brief stop. They said meetings had been sought but Turkish officials were unable to come to Istanbul from the capital of Ankara during the time Pompeo will be there.
The officials noted that Pompeo and his Turkish counterpart plan to see each other in early December at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers. [AP]