Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) speaks during a joint press conference with Pope Francis at Turkey's Presidential Palace on November 28, 2014 in Ankara. AFP PHOTO/ADEM ALTAN
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Pope Francis urged Muslim leaders to condemn the "barbaric violence" being committed in Islam's name against religious minorities in Iraq and Syria as he arrived in neighboring Turkey Friday for a delicate visit aimed at improving interfaith ties.Francis' three-day visit comes at a sensitive moment for Turkey, as it struggles to cope with 1.6 million refugees fleeing the IS advance in Syria and weighs how to respond to U.S. calls to get more engaged with the international coalition fighting the extremists.Erdogan said he hoped Francis' visit would strengthen ties between Christians and Muslims. But the pope's visit was met largely with indifference among Turkey's people, 99 percent of whom are Muslim.The absence of any meeting with refugees had raised eyebrows given that Francis had met with refugees in Jordan and in the Palestinian territories and has made welcoming refugees a major thrust of his papacy.In his opening remarks to Erdogan at his massive new presidential palace, Francis praised Turkey's welcome of refugees and said the international community had the "moral obligation" to help Ankara provide for them.
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