Donald Trump meets Pope Francis at the Vatican

Vatican City: Pope Francis urged US President Donald Trump to be a peacemaker and gave him a copy of his encyclical on climate change at their first meeting on Wednesday, after the two men exchanged sharp words past year.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, the pope was critical of Trump's oratory regarding a proposed border wall separating the United States from Mexico to reduce illegal immigration. It was not clear exactly what the pair discussed during their meeting, but the White House and the Vatican reportedly indicated that terrorism, climate change and peace were covered. The day before he met Pope Francis, Mr Trump's administration unveiled a budget that would slash spending on programmes that help some of America's poorest people.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We can use peace.

They say a photo is worth a thousand words but in the case of Pope Francis and Donald Trump, it has spawned off a thousand memes.

Trump arrived for a short private audience at the Apostolic Palace along with his wife Melania, daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

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"More determined than ever to pursue PEACE."

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Trump will later meet Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. When greeting the first lady, Pope Francis asked, "What are you feeding him, potica?"

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"It is my desire that you become an olive tree to construct peace", Francis said in Spanish. A statement from the Vatican later said "satisfaction was expressed" at their "joint commitment in favour of life" and that there was hoped-for collaboration on health care, assistance to immigrants and protection of Christian communities in the Middle East.

"The @Potus and I are looking forward to our visit with His Holiness Pope Francis @Pontifex".

Did Pope Francis suggest that Trump is "not Christian"?

Melania came under fire for choosing not to wear a headscarf on the couple's trip to Saudi Arabia, a Muslim country where women tend to cover their heads.

In his gift to Trump, The New York Times notes, "the pope seemed eager to impart a lesson".

At the time Trump called the pope "disgraceful" for doubting his faith.

Francis presented Trump with the 92-page encyclical on climate change as part of a package of three of the pontiff's works that also included a writing on family and another on the joy of the gospel.

  • Sonia Alvarado