US President Barack Obama visited a landmark mosque in Istanbul on Tuesday, following strong messages of US reconciliation with the Islamic world on his maiden trip to a mainly Muslim country.
Taking off his shoes as tradition requires, Obama stepped into the 17th-century Sultanahmet Mosque in the ancient heart of Istanbul, accompanied by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan amid tight security in the area.
Two Muslim preachers guided Obama inside the grandiose edifice -- better known as the Blue Mosque for its blue tileworks -- and the president smiled when they showed him a dome scripture mentioning the Prophet Mohammed's grandson Hussein, Obama's middle name, Anatolia news agency reported.
In a major speech at the Turkish parliament in Ankara Monday, Obama declared that the United States "is not and never will be at war with Islam" and called Turkey a "critical ally," earning himself much praise in a country where his predecessor left the US image in tatters.
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