Pope speaks to Turkish President, Iranian FM about Gaza violence

Pope speaks to Turkish President, Iranian FM about Gaza violence

Palestinians walk amid the rubble of a house that was hit by early morning Israeli airstrikes, in Gaza City, Monday, May 17, 2021. (Credit: Khalil Hamra/AP.)

The Vatican has confirmed that Pope Francis met with the Iranian foreign minister and spoke by telephone with the Turkish president amid the spiral of violence between Israel and the Palestinians.

ROME — The Vatican has confirmed that Pope Francis met with the Iranian foreign minister and spoke by telephone with the Turkish president amid the spiral of violence between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Vatican said Francis spoke by phone around 9 a.m. Monday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Later, he met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who was in Rome on a previously announced visit. The Vatican provided no comment on the content of the talks.

On Sunday, Francis appealed for calm and international help to open a path of dialogue. Speaking during his Sunday blessing, Francis said the deaths of children in the latest surge of violence was a “sign that they don’t want to build the future but want to destroy it.”

Erdogan said he asked Pope Francis to support sanctions against Israel, saying Palestinians will continue to be “massacred” as long as the international community does not punish Israel.

Erdogan also said that “continued messages and reactions” from Francis in support of Palestinians would be of great importance for the “mobilization of the Christian world and of the international community,” according to a statement from the Turkish presidential communications directorate.

During their conversation, Erdogan also renewed a call for the international community to take concrete steps to show Israel the “dissuasive reaction and lesson it deserves,” according to the statement. The Turkish leader has been engaged in a telephone diplomacy bid to end Israel’s use of force.

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