PM Tayyip Erdogan promised democratic reforms on Aug. 15 in a rare meeting with Turkey's religious minority leaders highlighting the issue of minority rights, a key stumbling block in its EU membership bid. Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and leaders of the small Armenian, Jewish, Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic communities had lunch with Erdogan and senior ministers on Buyukada island near Istanbul. The meeting coincided with government reform moves to address tensions with the country's 12 million Kurds. Erdogan, a devout Muslim whose government is viewed with suspicion by some for its Islamist roots, alluded in his speech to a broader reform process. (Reuters)

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