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Pope Asks Trump To Be Peacemaker


U.S. President Donald Trump has met with Pope Francis and said the encounter deepened his resolve to seek peace in the world.

Trump tweeted the remark after the pope urged him to be a peacemaker during their meeting on May 24, which followed a trip to the Middle East that included efforts to advance the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

"Honor of a lifetime to meet His Holiness Pope Francis. I leave the Vatican more determined than ever to pursue PEACE in our world," Trump wrote on Twitter.

Trump's meeting with Francis 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 health care, education, and assistance to immigrants," the statement 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.

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

After the private meeting the pope was introduced to members of Trump's delegation including first lady Melania Trump, Trump's daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, 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 through a translator, "What do you give him to eat, 'potica'?" -- a reference to a calorie-laden cake that comes from her native Slovenia.

The pope and the president then exchanged gifts, according to custom. Trump gave Francis a first-edition set of writings by Martin Luther King Jr. and 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 to Italy on May 23 after a two-day trip to Israel during which he visited the West Bank and called on Israel and the Palestinians to reach a compromise for peace.

He said that if Israel and the Palestinians could 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 Francis concludes Trump's tour of the ancient seats of the world's three largest monotheistic religions.

The U.S. president later left Rome for Brussels, where he is to meet with European Union leaders and attend a NATO meeting on May 25t.

He will then take part in a G7 summit that is being held in Sicily on May 26-27.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, dpa, and AP
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