Erdogan turned down meeting with Pompeo: report
Pompeo is scheduled to be in Istanbul on Monday and Tuesday as as part of a seven-nation nation tour that also takes him to several Middle East countries and France.
While the US official will meet with Bartholomew I of Constantinople - the spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox world – he does not have any scheduled meetings with top Turkish officials.
Pompeo had asked to meet with Erdogan if he "will be in Istanbul" and was met with rejection by the Presidency, Haber Turk reported, citing the official's "attitude" as reason.
In an earlier report, Bloomberg cited a Turkish official, who asked not to be identified, saying Pompeo had declined an invitation by Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to go to Ankara and instead had insisted Cavusoglu come to Istanbul to meet him.
Speaking to reporters, US officials attributed the ordeal as a "scheduling error", adding that Pompeo meant "no offense" in not meeting with senior Turkish officials.
The State Department said Pompeo wanted to "discuss religious issues in Turkey and the region and to promote our strong stance on religious freedom around the world".
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Pompeo's meeting with the patriarch in Istanbul comes four months after Erdogan re-converted Istanbul's emblematic Hagia Sophia monument into a mosque, a move that was publicly criticised by the US official.
Turkey's foreign ministry called Pompeo's visit subject matter "extremely inappropriate".
"It would be better if the United States looked in the mirror and showed the necessary sensitivity to human rights violations such as racism, Islamophobia and hate crimes in its own country," the ministry said in a recent statement.
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