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Despite past disagreements, Pope Francis and Trump exchange gestures of peace
25 May 2017, 01:28 | Kristen Gross
But while their words were sparse in front of the cameras, the two men sent signals about what they hoped to get out of the meeting - and the images they hoped to broadcast. When asked about his discussion with Francis, Trump said it had gone very well. As President Trump promised to ban Syrian refugees, stoke anti-Muslim sentiment in the US and promise to build a wall on the US-Mexico border, the Pope spoke out.
The meeting lasted 50 minutes.
The two held "cordial discussions" which enabled "an exchange of views on various themes relating to worldwide affairs and the promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation and inter-religious dialogue, with particular reference to the situation in the Middle East and the protection of Christian communities", according to a statement from the Holy See.
"I give it to you so you can be an instrument of peace", he said in Spanish.
"We can use peace", the president responded.
Trump will soon be leaving Rome, en route to Brussels for meetings with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders.
Francis also gave Trump a signed copy of his 2017 message entitled "Nonviolence - A Style of Politics for Peace" and a copy of his 2015 encyclical letter on the need to protect the world from the effects of climate change.
"I think you will enjoy them", Trump told the pope.
Still, experts believe it unlikely the outspoken pope will do anything but be welcoming during his first meeting with Trump. "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.
Trump met separately with top Vatican diplomats and visited the Sistine Chapel before leaving the Vatican. Trump, seeming subdued, said "it is a great honor".
Trump told the Pope after the visit, "Thank you, thank you".
Just before he left, Trump was heard telling Pope Francis, "Thank you".
The U.S. Catholic Church hierarchy opposes Trump's attempt to cut federal assistance for cities that give sanctuary to illegal immigrants. Other presidents and popes have also shared goals, including Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paull II who were united in their hopes for the defeat of communism.
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' worldwide stature would "continue to be measured above all by its concern for the poor, the outcast and those in need".
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