US President promises not to forget Papal message

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive aboard Air Force One at Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci International Airport in Rome Italy

Trump and the first lady arrive aboard Air Force One at Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci International Airport in Rome Italy Thomson Reuters

President Donald Trump and Pope Francis, two leaders with contrasting styles and differing worldviews, met at the Vatican on Wednesday, setting aside their previous clashes to broadcast a tone of peace for an audience around the globe.

Visit comes after public disagreements between the two men over climate change, immigration and refugee policy.

He later flew to Brussels where he was to meet Belgium's king and prime minister on Wednesday evening before a day of meetings with European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders on Thursday.

Donald Trump vowed yesterday to use his United States presidency to promote peace around the world after what he depicted as an inspirational meeting with an initially grim-faced Pope Francis.

When Donald Trump took the podium, he too seemed surprised by his wife's recitation.

So what can we glean from what we know of this meeting, and does it have any larger significance? "That's all he wanted", adding it should "very much" be seen as a slight.

"Honor of a lifetime to meet His Holiness Pope Francis", Trump wrote on Twitter before leaving Rome for Brussels and the next leg of his first overseas trip as president. "I leave the Vatican more determined than ever to pursue PEACE in our world". And in Israel, Trump reaffirmed his commitment to strong ties with the nation's longtime ally and urged both the Israelis and the Palestinians to begin the process of reaching a peace deal.

And even the pontiff's congratulatory message sent to mark Trump's inauguration contained a sly reference to their disagreement, as the pope wrote that he hoped the United States' global stature would "continue to be measured above all by its concern for the poor, the outcast and those in need". As is customary when a world leader meets with the Pope, the two parties exchanged gifts.

Previously, Spicer told the press he relied on his piety and prayer to do his job.

On worldwide affairs, their "exchange of views" covered the "promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation and interreligious dialogue", and highlighted the need to protect Christian communities in the Middle East. Donald brought along some copies of Dr Martin Luther King's work for the Pope, and Melania and Ivanka dressed like depressed extras on the set of The Handmaid's Tale.

Trump also told the pope he was committing more than $300m to help prevent or tackle starvation in Yemen and several countries in Africa. "We can use peace", Trump replied.

"Well, I'll be reading them", Mr Trump said.

Even recent presidential candidate Hillary Clinton followed this protocol on a visit to the Vatican in 1994 with her husband President Bill Clinton.

Also present was longtime aide and White House social media director Dan Scavino, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and national security advisor H.R. McMaster.

Melania and Ivanka wore conservative black dresses and veils during their trip to the Vatican.

Melania, a Catholic, asked the Pope to bless her rosary beads. Trump tweeted in 2013 that paying for your own hotel bill in person was not "Pope-like" after the pontiff stopped by a church-run hotel to settle the bill at the facility where he'd been staying prior to his election. "Because I think there is a mutual interest to close all the polemics of the past and to start working together", said Massimo Franco, author and political analyst for leading daily Corriere della Sera. She laughed in response, and agreed with him.

The rally filled the central Bourse square of the city just hours after Trump touched down in Air Force One.

After the meeting, Trump moves on to Brussels for a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit, followed by the last stop on his trip, to a Group of Seven summit in Sicily.

This visit will be about damage limitation with the fervent hope of establishing some kind of transatlantic chemistry, the BBC's Europe editor Katya Adler says.

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