Vatican City (AFP) – Barack Obama will meet Pope Francis for the first time Thursday for talks on a shared agenda to fight inequality which the US President hopes will help boost support at home.
The talks between the first Latin-American pope and first African-American US president will focus on tackling the gap between the rich and the poor, but are likely to spill over into thornier issues such as abortion, homosexuals and contraception.
The meeting at the Vatican comes as a welcome rest-stop for Obama during a six-day European tour dominated by the crisis over Crimea, and the US leader will doubtless be hoping some of the pope’s overwhelming popularity will rub off on him.
Obama will also meet new Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi and the country’s president Giorgio Napolitano during his visit to the eternal city, as well as going on a private guided tour of the Colosseum.
Diplomatic relations between Italy and the United States are close, though Rome still needs some convincing on the value of imposing sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis, amid fears it would take a toll on a key market.
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