All necessary security measures to protect Pope Benedict XVI will be taken during his visit to Turkey next month, Ankara's ambassador to Italy said Wednesday.
Ugur Ziyal told Turkey's state-owned news agency Anatolia there were no "particular risks" associated with the visit, despite Tuesday's hijack to Italy of a Turkish airliner, and he stressed that the pope was welcome.
"I don't think there are particular risks but we all know what terrorists can do. We've seen that in New York, Madrid and London. That's why we are taking necessary measures for the safety of the pope," Ziyal was quoted as saying.
"The pope will be welcomed warmly. The pope has mentioned dialogue between religions and cultures. This is a very positive development."
Pope Benedict carried on with his normal routine Wednesday, greeting 30,000 faithful from his open-topped popemobile in St. Peter's Square.
Benedict ended his summer sojourn at the papal palace outside Rome in Castel Gandolfo, where he had been staying since late July, and transferred back to his apartment in Vatican City.
Uniformed and plainclothes police kept watch over the crowd as part of heightened security measures put in place after Benedict's remarks Sept 12. in Germany about violence and Islam sparked anger and protests in the Muslim world.
During the hijacking Tuesday evening, Vatican officials both here and in Turkey insisted that plans were going ahead for Benedict's visit to Turkey, which would be his first papal pilgrimage to a predominantly Muslim country.
Italian Interior Minister Giuliano Amato told lawmakers that the hijacker had described himself as a convert to Christianity, reports AP.
Amato said the incident showed "the fragility" of the Turkish airline's security.
"We all have in mind the pope's visit to Turkey in the coming weeks," Amato said, a pilgrimage which will "present delicate security problems." But he added that he didn't think the hijacking had increased the security threat level for the pope's planned visit in late November.
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