Trump, Pope Francis meet at Vatican

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were part of the entourage, which also included Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser HR McMaster.

Meeting face-to-face for the first time, the two leaders sidestepped profound differences over a string of issues ranging from the environment to the plight of migrants and the poor.

Trump gave the pope an edition of the works of USA civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., including "Why We Can't Wait" and "Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?".

The pope had presented Trump with a medallion engraved with an olive tree, the worldwide symbol of peace.

Donald Trump then proceeded to visit the Sistine Chapel with his wife.

U.S. President Donald Trump met with Pope Francis today. Climate change activists projected the words "Planet Earth First" on the massive dome of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Tuesday night and protests are expected Wednesday in Rome and later in the week when Trump travels to Brussels for a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meeting and Sicily for a G7 gathering.

And even the pontiff's congratulatory message sent to mark Mr 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".

Trump tells reporters, "It was an honor to be with the pope". Trump was bringing "a message of tolerance and of hope to billions", he said.

Elected in November a year ago, Trump has already axed rules protecting tax-funded financing of family planning clinics that offer abortions, and has filled an empty spot on the Supreme Court with an anti-abortion justice.

According to a reporter for National Public Radio, as the guests headed into a Vatican elevator after their arrival, a male voice was heard saying: "It's not like Trump Tower in NY". They shared a laugh as Trump smiled.

Francis gave Trump copies of the three major texts he has published as pope, including one on the environment which urges the industrialised world to curb carbon emissions or risk catastrophic consequences for the planet.

The Mexican government and its leadership has made many disparaging remarks about me to the Pope, because they want to continue to rip off the United States, both on trade and at the border, and they understand I am totally wise to them.

Francis's interpreter could be heard translating a comment by the pope to the First Lady: "What do you give him to eat?". Francis also differs sharply with Trump on the need to combat climate change and economic inequality.

A Vatican statement is expected shortly.

After his visit to Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's holiest sites, and to Israel, this is the final leg of the tour of the world's three great religions.

Mr Trump's gift for Francis was wrapped in a big blue box.

Before parting ways, President Trump thanked the pontiff and said, "I won't forget what you said".

"Well, I'll be reading them", said the president.

Papal audiences usually last for about 20-30 minutes of private talks, followed by introductions of delegations, a photo and exchange of gifts.

Later in the morning, Trump, 70, was to call on Italy's president and prime minister while Melania visits a children's hospital and Ivanka discusses migration and people trafficking with members of the St Egidio religious community.

At the end of the private encounter, the pope gave the president a small sculptured olive tree symbolising peace.

Francis had criticized then-candidate Trump in February 2016, after Trump unveiled a key goal of his presidential campaign: walling off the US border with Mexico.

Trump and Francis have also staked out different positions on climate change.

"We can use peace", the president responded.

  • Carolyn Briggs