ISTANBUL

The Turkish and Palestinian presidents discussed over phone bilateral relations and regional issues, according to an official statement on Sunday.

In his conversation with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Mahmoud Abbas also hailed Turkey’s decision to reconvert Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia into a mosque, Turkey’s Communications Directorate said.

Hagia Sophia served as a church for 916 years until the conquest of Istanbul, and a mosque from 1453 to 1934 — nearly 500 years — and most recently as a museum for 86 years.

On July 10, a Turkish court annulled a 1934 Cabinet decree that had turned Hagia Sophia into a museum, paving the way for its use again as a mosque.

One of the most visited historic buildings in Turkey by domestic and international tourists, Hagia Sophia was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985, during its time as a museum.

* Writing by Erdogan Cagatay Zontur

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