Published: Wed, May 31, 2017
Local | By Adrian Hale

Pope 'terrific', Saudi 'spectacular' - Trump waxes lyrical on foreign tour

Pope 'terrific', Saudi 'spectacular' - Trump waxes lyrical on foreign tour

Mrs Trump, who grew up in Slovenia, reportedly speaks as many as six languages acquired during her worldwide modelling career. But Francis underscored his concern by including among his gifts to Trump a copy of a document he has written denouncing human contributions to climate change.

Although neither the Pope nor the president divulged what was discussed during their meeting, readouts from the White House and the Vatican highlighted terrorism, climate change and peace as agenda items covered.

As he completed the visit with the pontiff, President Trump told him, "I won't forget what you said". Their contrasting worldviews collided early a year ago, when Francis was sharply critical of Trump's campaign pledge to build an impenetrable wall on the Mexican border and his declaration that the United States should turn away Muslim immigrants and refugees. "They're using the pope as a pawn, and they should be ashamed of themselves - that's the Mexican government".

"We can use peace", Trump said.

Mr Trump was accompanied for the audience by his wife Melania and daughter Ivanka, both dressed all in black, in keeping with traditional protocol that is no longer always observed by all female dignitaries visiting the Vatican. Mr Trump gave the Pope a boxed set of writings by the civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

The two leaders have diametrically opposing views on various issues ranging from immigration, Mexico wall and climate change.

But it seems the Pope's gift was laced with a touch of side-eye.

He also presented him with a small sculptured olive tree, telling Mr Trump through an interpreter: "It is my desire that you become an olive tree to construct peace".

Although Trump was raised in Slovenia, a country whose religious population is predominantly Catholic, she married Donald Trump, a Presbyterian, in 2005 at Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal church in Palm Beach, Florida, and has celebrated Easter services there as recently as this year. "Trump's bark is worse than his bite", said a senior Vatican official who was granted anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the meeting.

Protests are also expected to continue in the week when Trump travels to Brussels for a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meeting and Sicily for a G7 gathering.

The president is midway through a grueling nine-day, maiden global journey which has included Middle East stops in the cradles of Islam and Judaism.

While Trump received warm welcomes in Riyadh and Jerusalem, the reception could grow cooler now that he's reached Europe, site of widespread protests after his election.

Trump's personal Twitter account banner previously displayed a picture of his visit to the Western Wall during his trip to Israel, while the POTUS account showed an image of the president and the First Lady with Israel's prime minister and his wife and Israel's president and his wife.

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