Vatican hopes for 'serene collaboration' with US

Under clear blue skies, Trump received a tribute from the Swiss Guard in a Vatican courtyard where he was greeted by Archbishop Georg Ganswein, the prefect of the pontifical household.

Donald Trump brought wife Melania, daughter Ivanka, and son-in-law Jared Kushner with him to meet with The Pope at the Vatican on Wednesday, and to say things looked tense would be an understatement.

Trump's meeting with Pope Francis, his third stop on a nine-day foreign tour due to end on Saturday, was part of his world tour of religions after meeting leaders of Muslim nations in Saudi Arabia and visiting holy sites in Jerusalem.

"Well I'll be reading them", Trump said after receiving the gifts.

Even when the two were sitting at the pope's desk in the presence of photographers and reporters, the pope avoided the small talk that usually occurs before the media is ushered out.

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

It is not know whether Mr. Trump and the hugely popular pope reached common ground in their private meeting, though it seems unlikely the two were confrontational in spite of their clashes during 2016 US presidential election campaign. "Potica (a calorie-laden Slovenian cake)?". First Lady Melania Trump and First Daughter Ivanka Trump also stand next to the president. The president was heard thanking the pope and saying it was "a great honor" to be there.

Francis and Trump are unlikely to criticize each other so bluntly when they meet - at least in public, said Andrea Tornielli, a veteran Vatican watcher with Italy's La Stampa newspaper.

Massive security precautions have been taken in Rome, with the areas around the presidential palace, Vatican City, the American ambassador's residence and the United States embassy temporarily closed to traffic.

Francis explained that the branch is a symbol of peace, and Trump replied: "We can use peace".

The pope also gave the president a signed message of peace along with copies of his three main teaching documents. When asked about his discussion with Francis, Trump said it had gone very well.

"We know that peace is possible if we put aside the pain and disagreements of the past and commit together to finally resolving this crisis which has dragged on for almost half a century", Trump added in his speech at the museum, shortly before departing Israel for Rome, adding that Israelis and Palestinians "can make a deal". "I think you will enjoy them", President Trump told Francis, as he presented him with a first-edition set of King's writings, recalling the Pope's address to Congress in 2015 in which he quoted King.

The pope had presented Trump with a medallion engraved with an olive tree, the worldwide symbol of peace. "He is something. He is really good". He presented the U.S. leader with his encyclical on the environment during their private meeting.

The Vatican also stressed their "joint commitment in favor of life and freedom of worship and conscience", and the hope for a "serene collaboration", between the government and the Catholic Church in the the fields of healthcare, education and assistance to immigrants.

  • Zachary Reyes