The Vatican has confirmed that Pope Benedict XVI will visit Turkey next month, allaying fears the trip may have been cancelled after his recent remarks about Islam provoked protests around the world.
The Vatican press office said on Sunday that the visit, the pope's first to a Muslim country since taking office in April last year, would take place from November 28 to December 1.
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, said in a religious television programme that "the desire of the pope, the holy see and the Catholic church is to continue dialogue", the Ansa news agency reported.
Catholics and Muslims can and should share values "which are essential for the fate and future of humanity", he said, adding that this was what should be read into the pope's address last month.
According to the published programme, the pope will arrive in Ankara, then go on to Izmir and Ephesus on November 29, ending up in Istanbul where he will stay until the end of his visit.
A furore erupted in the Muslim world when the pope quoted a medieval Christian emperor who equated Islam with violence in his September 12 speech at the University of Regensburg.
The pontiff later apologised for the offence he had called without explicitly retracting the comments themselves.
Bertone said the speech was "a call for cooperation between the Christian and Muslim faiths to share ... the common moral objectives which our modern world cannot renounce".
The pope's visit to Turkey would be "an occasion for dialogue and meetings with religious and political representatives", he added.