ANKARA

Turkey on Wednesday strongly criticized northern Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) over its controversial attempt to print a commemorative stamp to mark Pope Francis’ visit.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that one of the commemorative stamps that are planned to be printed depicts a map which includes some provinces of Turkey, and called on the KRG officials to “immediately reverse the grave mistake.”

“Some presumptuous KRG leaders are attempting to use this visit [of the Pope] to reveal their pipe dreams targeting territorial integrity of Iraq’s neighboring countries,” read the statement.

It added: “The frustrating results of such insidious ambitions would best be remembered by the KRG authorities.”

The pope’s four-day historic visit from March 5 to 8 covered five Iraqi cities, including Baghdad, Erbil, Mosul, Najaf, and Nasiriyah.

It was the first-ever visit by a pope to Iraq and the pontiff’s first foreign tour since the global outbreak of the coronavirus in December 2019.

Pope Francis held a historic meeting on Saturday with Al-Sistani, Iraq’s top Shia cleric, in the southern city of Najaf.

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