The Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew had a private meeting with the US President, Barack Obama, in the run up to Easter, touching on environmental concerns and issues about the future of Turkey.
The meeting took place in Constantinople (modern day Istanbul)and the substance of the discussions included President Obama’s commitment to finding a favourable solution to the disputed issue of the Theological School of Halki in his recent speech to the Turkish Parliament.
Bartholomew called for the speedy re-opening of the school, which undertakes the education and preparation of Orthodox clergy.
He emphasized the importance of religious liberty and the guarantee of freedom for all minorities in Turkey, while at the same time making known his long-standing support for the country's efforts to join the European Union.
The two men share a commitment to action on the environment and the Ecumenical Patriarch highlighted his own forthcoming Ecological Symposium in the USA (Mississippi River) in October 2009.
Through the local US General Council, the Orthodox leader sent the President an icon of the Prophet Baruch bearing a handwritten inscription.