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Pope Asks Trump To Be Peacemaker


Pope Francis urged U.S. President Donald Trump to be a peacemaker at their first meeting, and Trump promised he would not forget the pontiff's message.

The pope received Trump at the Vatican on May 24, and the visit began with a handshake. Trump could be heard thanking the pope and saying it was "a great honor" to be there before sitting down with Francis for their private 30-minute meeting.

In a statement, the Vatican said the two leaders expressed a "joint commitment in favor of life, freedom of worship, and conscience.

"It is hoped that there may be serene collaboration between the state and the Catholic Church in the United States, engaged in service to the people in the fields of healthcare, education and assistance to immigrants," the statement added.

Trump suggested he was moved by his private meeting with the pontiff, telling Francis afterwards that he wouldn't "forget what you said."

Upon completing their meeting, the pope gave the president a medal featuring an olive branch, a symbol of peace, among other gifts.

"It is my desire that you become an olive tree to construct peace," the pope said, speaking in Spanish -- the main language of his country, Argentina.

"We can use peace," Trump said.

The pontiff was then introduced to members of Trump's delegation, including First Lady Melania Trump, Trump's daughter Ivanka, and son-in-law Jared Kushner, as well as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.

Pope Francis (right) stands with U.S. President Donald Trump, his wife, Melania, and his daughter Ivanka during a private audience at the Vatican on May 24.
Pope Francis (right) stands with U.S. President Donald Trump, his wife, Melania, and his daughter Ivanka during a private audience at the Vatican on May 24.

Smiling for the staff, Francis had a light moment with the first lady, asking her via a translator, "What do you give him to eat, pizza?"

She smiled back and said "Pizza? Yes."

The pope and the president then exchanged gifts, according to custom. Trump offered Francis some books written by Martin Luther King Jr. The pope presented Trump with the medal, a message of peace, and three bound papal documents.

Following the meeting with the pope, Trump also held talks in Rome with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

Trump flew in to Italy on May 23 from Israel and the West Bank, where he called on Israelis and Palestinians to reach a compromise for peace.

In the West Bank, he said that if Israel and the Palestinians can forge an agreement it could "begin a process of peace all throughout the Middle East."

Trump's first trip abroad 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.

The meeting with Pope Francis concludes Trump's tour of the ancient seats of the world's three largest monotheistic religions.

The U.S. president is to attend a NATO meeting in Brussels on May 25 and a Group of Seven summit that is being held in Sicily on May 26-27.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, dpa, and AP
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