Pope meets Trump, asks him to be peacemaker

Pope Francis welcomed President Trump to the Vatican on Wednesday. Credit Pool photo by Evan Vucci

Pope Francis urged U.S. President Donald Trump to be a peacemaker at their highly anticipated first meeting on Wednesday, and Trump promised he would not forget the pontiff’s message, Reuters reported.

Under clear blue skies, Trump, who exchanged sharp words with the pope during the U.S. election campaign last year, received a tribute from the Swiss Guard in a Vatican courtyard when he arrived, Reuters added.

Trump entered a small elevator taking him to the third floor of the Apostolic Palace and, after a long ceremonial walk past frescoed corridors, shook the pope’s hand at the entrance to the private study, which the frugal pontiff uses only for official occasions, according to Reuters.

Before the door of the wood-lined elevator closed, a Vatican protocol official was heard quipping to the president that it was not “like Trump Tower in New York”.

Francis smiled faintly as he greeted Trump outside the study and was not as outgoing as he sometimes is with visiting heads of state. Trump, seeming subdued, said “it is a great honor”. Reuters indicated.

Even when the two were sitting at the pope’s desk in the presence of photographers and reporters, the pope avoided the kind of small talk that usually occurs before the media is ushered out. The two talked privately for about 30 minutes with translators, Reuters explained.

According to Reuters, both men looked far more relaxed at the end of the private meeting, with the pope smiling and joking with Trump and his wife Melania.

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