Source: Associated Press
By FRANCES D’EMILIO
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Paying the first Vatican visit by a Turkish head of state in 59 years, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met Monday with Pope Francis to discuss the status of Jerusalem, human rights and refugees while Kurdish and Italian protesters clashed with police a short distance from Vatican City.
Police in riot gear blocked the protesters, estimated by officers to number about 150, near Rome’s Tiber River as they tried to get closer to the Vatican. One protester suffered a bloody gash on his head in the scuffle. Police said another was detained.
“I am surprised the pope is willing to meet with a person like that, a dictator, an assassin, with blood on his hands,” Said Durson, who was among the demonstrators, said.
Turkey last month launched a military offensive in a Kurdish-held enclave in Syria. The Turkish government says the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish militia there to be a terrorist organization and an extension of Kurdish insurgents fighting within Turkey.