Top Iranian aide praises Turkey's Hagia Sophia conversion

Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday praised Turkey for reconverting Istanbul's Hagia Sophia, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

"We congratulate the Turkish people for this important Islamic success," Anadolu cited Velayati as saying.

The 6th century Greek Orthodox cathedral, which was converted into a mosque by Ottoman Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror in 1453 after he conquered Istanbul, has long been at the heart of an ideological battle between Turkish Kemalists and Islamists.

The monument has served as a museum since 1935 under the founding of Turkey’s Republic, however, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeatedly suggested over the years to turn it into a mosque again to fulfil a long-standing demand by Turkish Islamists.

Velayati also criticised U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for urging Turkey to keep the Hagia Sophia as a museum just before Ankara's decision.

"His ancestors converted all museums of the world into churches. The Hagia Sophia, which has been a mosque for 500 years, will remain as a mosque until the apocalypse," Velayati said in response to Pompeo.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s foreign ministry spokesperson and his Iranian counterpart held a meeting vis-à-vis information sharing between the two countries on Wednesday.

Hami Aksoy and Sayed Abbas Mousavi discussed increasing cooperation in the media field and mechanisms to ensure collaboration.