Trump tells Pope Francis: 'I won't forget what you said'

Trump, midway through his grueling nine-day maiden worldwide journey, will meet the pontiff at the Vatican early Wednesday where the two will have a private audience laden with religious symbolism and ancient protocol.

Mr Trump also met Italy's president and prime minister while in Rome.

Trump responded with a statement calling Francis' remarks "disgraceful".

With a handshake and the exchange of cordial phrases of salutation, the Supreme Pontiff received, next to the Tronetto Hall of the papal apartment, the American president, who said that this has been for him 'a great honor to be here'.

The pair held a private audience for about 30 minutes.

Trump traveled to the Vatican with the first lady Melania Trump, his daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner.

But at the Vatican today, both women made the most significant show yet of playing politics with how they dressed, opting to wear black, long-sleeve dresses (Melania's by her favored Italian design duo Dolce & Gabbana, who are endlessly inspired by the church) and mantillas, the traditional black veils worn in the Roman Catholic Church.

Trump and the pontiff have disagreed in the past on issues including environmental protection.

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.

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".

"We can use this".

US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania meet Pope Francis during a private audience at the Vatican.

"Well, I'll be reading them", Trump promised the pope.

During his election campaign, Mr Trump said scientific findings that human economic activity contributed to global warming were a hoax. For his part, the Pontiff was gracious, but reporters noted that during the photo op with the President he wasn't engaging in as much of the usual chit chat while they waited and he generally wasn't smiling. "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.

When Trump left, he told the pope: "Thank you, I won't forget what you said".

"I don't know what will change from this meeting", said Elise Sanders, 33, a Gaffney, S.C. native working as a primary school teacher in Rome. He is something. He is really good.

Trump described the meeting as "fantastic" and an "honor". He appeared to greet the US president cautiously on Wednesday, but warmed as the meeting continued and joked about what Trump ate.

The US Catholic Church hierarchy opposes Mr Trump's attempt to cut federal assistance for cities that give sanctuary to illegal immigrants.

What is more, the newspaper said, "the budget also includes financing for the construction of the wall along the border with Mexico". "A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian".

The third leg of Trump's first overseas trip, the stop in the Vatican always carried the potential for an awkward encounter, after the two men rhetorically skirmished during the presidential campaign.

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