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.
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.
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He 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.
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”.
Even when the two were sitting at the pope’s desk in the presence of photographers and reporters, the pope avoided the small talk that usually occurs before the media is ushered out.
The two talked privately for about 30 minutes with translators.
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.
Francis’s interpreter could be heard translating a comment by the pope to the First Lady: “What do you give him to eat?”.
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