President Donald Trump concluded his visit to Israel on Tuesday with a continued promise to work toward peace between Israel and Palestine and then took a plane to the Vatican City, where he met with the Pope this morning.
Following a brief greeting, Trump and Pope Francis Francis held a meeting in the Pope's private library where, during a 27-minute talk, they briefly discussed the promotion of world peace in a face-to-face conversation aided by interpreters, according to the Vatican press office.
A day after the deadly terrorist attack in Britain that has been claimed by Islamist group ISIS, bot leaders agreed that this goal should be achieved through political negotiations and inter-religious dialogue, with a particular focus on the Middle East and protecting the Christian communities there.
Following the talks, Trump gifted Francis with a collection of the five books written by Martin Luther King, including a signed 1963 copy of "The Strength of Love," a piece of the MLK monument and a bronze sculpture, as reported by EFE.
The Pope was then introduced to the US president's entourage, which included: the First Lady; his eldest daughter, Ivanka; his son-in-law, Jared Kushner; Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster and presidential spokeswoman Hope Hicks.
For Trump, it wasn't an easy encounter. Pope Francis has openly spoken out against some of the populist values he’s associated with—even as right-wing Catholics have embraced Trump, as reported in The Atlantic.
According to Reuters, "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".
The pope even avoided the small talk that usually occurs before the media.
Trump's trip to the Vatican marks the beginning of the European stage of his first presidential visit overseas, an international tour with prior stops in Saudi Arabia and Israel. He is scheduled to attend a G7 meeting in Sicily, Italy, after he meets the NATO and European Union leadership in Belgium.
And while Trump is abroad, problems in Washington grow: a new report implicates White House staffers in some of the questions about how Trump may have tried to shut down the FBI’s investigation of Mike Flynn. Meanwhile, Flynn is getting another Senate subpoena, this time seeking materials from two of his businesses—which could bypass his attempt to plead the Fifth.