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Highlights from the world's press

Compiled by Ravi Agrawal for CNN
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(CNN) -- Pope Benedict XVI ended his Ankara visit in Turkey by welcoming the chiefs of foreign missions at the Vatican Embassy in Ankara on Wednesday evening, in a visit that many commentators are now terming a success. According to Turkey's Zaman over 2,000 journalists have been accredited to cover the Pope's visit, and papers around the world are analyzing its' ramifications alongside the larger debate about religious sensitivities in troubled times.

In the UK, The Times runs an editorial by Canadian writer Irshad Manji, who says this is a good moment to re-enter the debate raised by the Pope's comments on Islam and violence in September.

"As if on cue, Muslims around the world reacted angrily, some resorting to the very violence that they denied plays any role in our faith... as a faithful Muslim, I don't believe the Pope needed to apologize. We Muslims resent it when non-Muslims reduce the Quran to its most bloodthirsty passages. Why, I wonder, are we reducing the Pope's speech to a mere few words?"

The International Herald Tribune says that far from being anti-Muslim, the Pope views Islam as a key cultural ally against the enlightenment liberalism that for him corrodes the moral core of Western society.

"It is important to realize, however, that Benedict recognizes a mutual problem in this explicit project of religious realignment around shared critiques and common discernment. Secular conceptions of race, state and nation have corrupted all the faiths, too often turning them into a vehicle for nationalism or racism. Accordingly, the denunciation at Regensburg of scripturally authorized violence by Islam is wholly in line with Benedict's call to the faiths to abandon their respective perversions. Hence the papal demand on Tuesday that all religions 'utterly refuse to sanction recourse to violence as a legitimate expression of faith.'"

Turkish Daily News reports that the Pope has won the appreciation of many people in Turkey -- he became the first ever Pope to pay a visit to Anitkabir, the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern secular Turkish Republic. The paper praised the word he wrote in the mausoleum's visitor's book:

"In this land where different religions and cultures meet and which is a bridge between Asia and Europe, I feel happiness to repeat the 'peace at home, peace abroad' words of the founder of the Republic of Turkey." The paper commented: "That's exactly what we wanted to hear from a Pope -- a man of religion -- because it is our deep conviction that irrespective of how they appeal to the Creator, all religions preach peace, brotherhood of mankind, harmony, and tolerance of differences."

Canada's National Post says only rarely do pontiffs create geopolitical sparks of the sort the Pope set off yesterday by stating that he supports Turkey's bid to join the European Union.

"The Pope was correct when he told Prime Minister Erdogan that Turkey is a bridge between religions and cultures. Now that so much of the interaction between the Muslim world and the West has all the appearances of a clash of civilizations, this is the sort of bridge that Europe -- and the entire Western world -- very much needs."

Iraq Study Group, civil war, Guantanamo

The New York Times says the bipartisan Iraq Study Group has reached a consensus that will call for a gradual pullback of the 15 American combat brigades now in Iraq but stop short of setting a firm timetable for their withdrawal, according to people familiar with the panel's deliberations.

In the UK, The Guardian says that U.S. President Bush is hesitant to say Iraq is in the throes of civil war. The paper reports that so far only NBC of the major TV networks and very few newspapers, among them the LA Times, are calling Iraq a civil war.

"For all his objection to the term 'civil war', Bush has no reason to complain about the media's choice of words. The media gave him a free rein before the invasion, but then the print and broadcast correspondents with their feet on the ground -- risking their lives -- saw before anyone in the White House that Iraq was on a vicious downward spiral. Just as in Vietnam, all those first-hand reports were derided in Washington. Worse, the gang of three -- Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz -- attacked the reporters as lazy, unpatriotic cowards. Unbelieveable. Nicholas Kristoff in the New York Times on Tuesday spoke for most of us in the press: 'How about the administration devotes itself less to managing the news and more to trying to manage Iraq?'"

The Washington Post reports a new study which establishes that due process rights for detainees in Guantanamo Bay are a "sham and inconsistent with the goal of vetting the detainees to accurately separate the truly bad guys from the poor Schmoes who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when the war on terrorism began in 2001." The study found that "the government's classified evidence was always presumed to be reliable and valid" while each request by a detainee to "inspect" classified evidence was denied. And, even in those cases where the government relied upon unclassified evidence, such evidence was denied to the detainee.

NATO

The next few days seem bound to see papers around the world discussing the outcome of the NATO summit in Latvia. In the lead-up to the summit, Afghanistan was considered by many to be the lead issue on the table.

The Guardian reports that UK Prime Minister Tony Blair made the "startling" claim yesterday that Britain and the NATO were "winning" the war in Afghanistan despite increased Taliban activity and a sharply rising death toll. "But Mr Blair, who along with George Bush is among the most bullish of the NATO leaders about the prospects for Afghanistan, said: 'I think there is a sense that this mission in Afghanistan is not yet won, but it is winnable and, indeed, we are winning.' NATO members agreed a messy and inconclusive compromise on reinforcements for British, American, Canadian and Dutch troops fighting in the south."

Ballistic Missile Shield for India

India's Hindu says that the country has been working on ways of protecting itself from ballistic missiles for some years, and on Monday Indian scientists announced a modified Prithvi missile had intercepted another Prithvi missile in flight and destroyed it.

The paper says while the successful test is a "significant step" in creating India's missile defence system, a rollback of nuclear weaponisation offers the best prospects of long-term security. "No missile defence system is likely to be able to provide total security. One option for adversaries will be to try to swamp the missile defence system by firing a large number of dummy missiles along with missiles armed with real warheads. If even a few nuclear-tipped missiles were to get through and hit some major Indian cities, the results will be catastrophic. Playing this sort of Russian roulette with ballistic missiles is downright dangerous and it is far from clear that missile defence system can ever provide India the security from nuclear attack that it seeks. Détente and a bilateral India-Pakistan agreement that will enable the two countries to roll back nuclear weaponisation offer the best prospects for long-term security."


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Many commentators are terming Pope Benedict XVI's trip to Turkey as a success.

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