President Joe Biden meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican

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President Joe Biden meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican
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President Joe Biden met with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

They were so wrapped up in their chat it ran into overtime. The pair were expected to be talking about the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, poverty and more.

The US President declared it was “good to be back” as he opened a five-day European trip Friday.

Mr Biden’s private meeting with the pope lasted about 75 minutes which is unusually long time, according to the Vatican.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki, in previewing the visit, said she expected a “warm and constructive dialogue” between the two leaders.

“There’s a great deal of agreement and overlap with the president and Pope Francis on a range of issues: poverty, combating the climate crisis, ending the COVID-19 pandemic,” Psaki said.

“These are all hugely important, impactful issues that will be the centerpiece of what their discussion is when they meet.”

There was an exchange of gifts between the pair.

Mr Biden gifted Pope Francis a woven chasuble, or liturgical vestment, which was made in 1930 by the famed papal tailor Gamarelli and used by the pope’s Jesuit order in the US.

It was held in the archives of the Holy Trinity Church which is steeped in American history.

The White House also said it would make a donation to charity in the pope’s name.

Pope Francis presented Biden with a ceramic tile depicting the iconography of the pilgrim as well as a collection of his main teaching documents.

Swiss Guards in blue and gold striped uniforms and red-plumed halberds welcomed Mr Biden and his wife Jill.

"It's good to be back," Biden said as he shook the hand of one of the guards. "I'm Jill's husband," he said to another. Then he was taken upstairs to the pope's private library.

Mr Biden and Pope Francis have previously met three times but Friday was the first time they have met since Mr Biden became president.

After their meeting, he will meet separately with Group of 20 summit hosts Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

His day will end with meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron as part of an effort to mend relations with France after the US and UK decided to provide nuclear-powered submarines to Australia.

The president has plans to visit Rome and then Glasgow, Scotland, for back-to-back summits.

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