Pope criticizes Trump's decision to move United States embassy to Jerusalem

Pope Francis after his General Audience on Wednesday at the Vatican

Pope Francis after his General Audience on Wednesday at the Vatican

Pope Francis, speaking hours before U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement on Jerusalem, called on Wednesday for the city's "status quo" to be respected, saying new tension in the Middle East would further inflame world conflicts.

Addressing his supporters at Esenboğa airport in Ankara prior to his historic visit to Greece, Erdoğan warned that Trump's remarks on Jerusalem were aimed at fueling conflict not achieving regional peace.

"France and Europe are attached to a two-state solution - Israel and Palestine with Jerusalem the capital of both states", he said, adding that Paris was ready to work with partners to find a solution.

The pope said he was "profoundly concerned" about recent developments concerning Jerusalem, and declared the city a unique and sacred place for Christians, Jews and Muslims that has a "special vocation for peace".

Trump is also expected to announce that the U.S. embassy will be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

"If Mr. Trump says 'I am strong, so I am right, ' then he is mistaken". Officials said the move was a "recognition of reality" as most of its government institutions are in Jerusalem.

Francis made the appeal during his weekly audience, hours before the expected announcement that the USA is to recognise the city as Israel's capital.

British Prime Minister Theresa May called Donald Trump's decision was not helping the prospects of peace in the region.

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In response to Trump's announcement, patriarchs and heads of all churches in Jerusalem urged Trump to reconsider his decision to relocate the USA embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, reiterating deep concerns of potentially escalating conflicts in a region sacred to Muslims, Jews, and Christians. Francis, former Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul II all visited Israel and Palestinian territories.

Turkey will host an extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) on December 13 to discuss the USA move.

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned to cut diplomatic ties with Israel if the United States recognises Jerusalem as its capital.

Francis spoke to Abbas on the phone on Tuesday, after Trump told Abbas of his decision to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. It quickly annexed it, declaring the whole of the city as its capital in a move which has not been recognised internationally.

The English-language Daily Star newspaper's front page features a full-page photo of Old City of Jerusalem with a headline reading: "No offense Mr. President, Jerusalem is the capital of PALESTINE".

"The provocative and unwise decision by the United States... will provoke Muslims and inflame a new intifada and an escalation of radical, angry and violent behaviour", the foreign ministry said on its website.

It called on the USA administration to reconsider "this faulty decision that may result in highly negative outcomes and to avoid uncalculated steps that will harm the multicultural identity and historical status of Jerusalem".

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