By TIME Staff
November 28, 2014

Pope Francis begins a three-day visit to Turkey on Friday, during which he is due to discuss threats to Christian communities in the Middle East with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

After meeting Erdogan, the 77-year-old Argentine will travel to Istanbul over the weekend. He claims to want to forge a closer relationship between the Catholic Church and the Muslim world, reports Al Jazeera.

Turkey boasts only around 80,000 Christians compared to 75 million Muslims. The nation has hit the headlines in recent months as a launching point for jihadists wanting to join the sectarian slaughter wreaked by groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS.)

A radical Sunni cult, ISIS has vowed to exterminate both the region’s Shia Muslims and Christian sects such as the Yazidis.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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