Trump Meets Pope Francis At The Vatican

Vatican City: Head of the Roman Catholic Church Pope Francis today welcomed U.S. President Donald Trump to the Vatican for their first face-to-face meeting.

The audience took place in the private library of the Apostolic Palace, the official papal residence that Francis does not use, having opted instead for modest lodgings in a Vatican guesthouse.

Trump, midway through a grueling nine-day, maiden global journey, called upon the pontiff in a private, 30-minute meeting laden with religious symbolism and ancient protocol.

Trump and the pope have expressed opposing views on issues such as immigration and climate change and the two men exchanged sharp words during the presidential campaign previous year.

The two men's often opposite worldviews collided head-on early a year ago, when Francis was sharply critical of Trump's ca.

Following behind Trump were his wife Melania, daughter Ivanka, her husband, Jared Kushner, a top White House aide, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and adviser Hope Hicks.

Since his November election, Trump has pleased the Catholic hierarchy by axing rules protecting tax-funded financing of family planning clinics that offer abortions.

Francis gave the president a small sculptured olive tree and told him through the interpreter that it symbolised peace.

"Thank you. I won't forget what you said", President Trump told Pope Francis, before leaving the Pope's private study after a half-hour private meeting.

The length of the meeting has often been considered a gauge in the goodwill between popes and presidents, but it may not be much help on Wednesday.

Trump is also meeting Italy's president and prime minister before setting off to Brussels for a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meeting on Thursday.

The pope smiled faintly as he greeted Trump outside the study. Prior to their meeting, media reports focused on how different the two are.

Melania giggled and said "Pizza?"

They also reportedly talked about the "promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation and interreligious dialogue", along with the need to protect Christian communities in the Middle East, which are suffering at the hands of Islamic extremists.

Trump had begun his foreign trip with a two-day stop in Saudi Arabia over the weekend, urging Muslim countries to take the lead in combating radicalisation.

For the European Union and for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, this visit is about damage limitation with the fervent hope of establishing some kind of transatlantic chemistry, the BBC's Europe editor Katya Adler says.

The president has repeatedly insisted that he did nothing improper and has said he has been informed he is not under investigation. "I think Pope Francis is definitely a pope for all people", Amato said.

These have included Francis calling Trump's border wall plans "not Christian" and the billionaire tycoon suggesting the pope might be glad to have him in charge if the Islamic State group attacked the Vatican.

Francis suggested a year ago that Mr Trump was "not Christian" because of his plans to keep out migrants with a wall on the Mexican border, and the two men are at odds over climate change, which the USA president has described as a "Chinese hoax". Trump fired back that it was "disgraceful" for the Pope to question his faith.

At the end of the first meeting between the pontiff and the new American president, the Vatican emphasized those issues they hold in common - commitments to the pro-life cause and a renewed urgency on freedom of worship and conscience.

During his earlier stop in Israel, Trump declared that both the Israeli and Palestinian leaders are "ready to reach for peace".

Trump's first trip overseas as president began with a two-day visit to Saudi Arabia, where he attended a summit with leaders of predominantly Muslim countries on May 21.

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