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The Latest: Trump says meeting with Pope was honor


SOURCE: VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump’s first trip abroad (all times local):

2:23 p.m.

President Donald Trump says meeting with Pope Francis was the “honor of a lifetime.”

Trump tweeted Wednesday that a private meeting with the pontiff at the Vatican leaves him “more determined than ever to pursue PEACE in our world.”

Trump met with Francis Wednesday for a half hour. The president and pope have a contentious history, but appeared on good terms after their conversation.

Trump will soon be leaving Rome, en route to Brussels for meetings with NATO leaders.

The president has spent the week traveling to holy Muslim, Jewish and Christian sites during his first official trip abroad.

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1.45 p.m.

The European Union is hoping that Thursday’s talks with U.S. President Donald Trump will stress continuity in their relations after the early months of his administration increased fears that the trans-Atlantic friendship was on the wane.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini says that even if Trump’s policies diverge greatly from his predecessors on many points, continued close contact must avoid fundamental disagreements on climate change and other global issues.

She says, “What I am expecting tomorrow is a message of continuity.”

Mogherini adds that, “We do realize there are points of difference where we have different points of view and where we will need to discuss things further, but it is vital to work on climate change” and the role of international organizations like the United Nations.

Mogherini will join EU Council President Donald Tusk and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker for a short meeting with Trump at EU headquarters early Thursday.

1 p.m.

First lady Melania Trump has visited the Vatican’s children’s hospital, meeting with patients, painting pictures with them and taking selfies.

Mrs. Trump went to the Bambino Gesu (Baby Jesus) pediatric hospital after she and President Donald Trump met with Pope Francis earlier at the Vatican.

She toured the cardiac intensive unit as well as the recreation room, where she painted with the children from nine different countries and took selfies with them. She ended the visit by praying in the hospital chapel.

Before leaving, Mrs. Trump wrote in the guest book that she was praying for the children: “Great visiting you. Stay strong and positive. Much love, Melania Trump.” With a red pen, she drew a small flower and heart.

12:39 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he had “a fantastic meeting” with Pope Francis earlier Wednesday.

The president offered brief remarks as he sat down with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni in Rome.

Trump tells reporters, “It was an honor to be with the pope.” He adds of the pope: “He is something.”

Trump ignored a question about whether they discussed climate change.

The president arrived at the Villa Taverna shortly after noon, following a meeting with the country’s president at Quirinale Palace.

He’ll be departing Rome for Brussels later today.

12:05 p.m.

The Vatican says after a visit by President Donald Trump that it is hoping for “serene collaboration” with the United States to help immigrants and provide health care and education in the U.S.

Trump met for about 30 minutes Wednesday morning with Pope Francis and afterward with the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

In a statement, the Vatican said the two sides agreed on their “joint commitment in favor of life and freedom of worship and conscience.”

The statement continued: “It is hoped that there may be serene collaboration between the state and the Catholic Church in the United States, engaged in service to the people in the fields of healthcare, education and assistance to immigrants.”

It said talks also covered promoting peace through dialogue with people of other faiths.

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11:58 a.m.

Ivanka Trump says she came to a Catholic charity in Rome to meet with several women who have been freed from human traffickers so she can hear about “their struggles and how they will build their lives.”

Still dressed in black after her earlier visit at the Vatican to meet Pope Francis, President Donald Trump’s daughter spoke briefly to reporters as she stood under a grape arbor in the courtyard of the Rome headquarters of the Sant’Egidio Community.

She said the liberated African women she was going inside to meet were testament to “strength, faith, perseverance in the face of unspeakable adversity.”

Community officials said she would be chatting with several women from Nigeria who had been trafficked into prostitution before becoming free in Rome.

At least one Eritrean woman was also invited to the closed-door conversation sitting around a square table.

Ivanka Trump has had meetings about the subject at the White House.

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11:26 a.m.

President Donald Trump is meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella.

Trump was greeted by Mattarella at the Quirinale Palace in Rome on Wednesday morning. The meeting follows a private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

Trump is expected to next meet with Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

Trump is in the middle of his first international trip — a nine-day journey through the middle east and Europe. He will leave for Belgium later on Wednesday.

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11:01 a.m.

President Donald Trump has arrived at Quirinale Palace for his meeting with the Italian president.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump had been scheduled to have private tour of the Sistine Chapel before the meeting.

The intimate chapel features Michelangelo’s masterpiece, “The Last Judgment,” behind the altar as well as the iconic “Creation of Adam” on the ceiling. Works of other Renaissance greats, including Botticelli and Perugino, line the walls.

The Sistine Chapel is the highlight of tours of the Vatican Museums as well as a functioning part of the Vatican.

Trump also met with the Vatican secretary of state Wednesday following his meeting with the pope.

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10:40 a.m.

Ivanka Trump plans to meet with human trafficking victims in Rome.

Trump will meet Wednesday with African women who have been freed in Italy from human traffickers. The encounter was arranged by the Rome-based Catholic charity Sant’Egidio Community, which has ties with the Vatican and which has helped Syrian refugees arrive safely in Italy via “humanitarian corridors.”

The president’s daughter and adviser has held meetings at the White House on human trafficking.

Community officials said several women will chat with Trump. She was expected to make a brief statement to the media after the closed-door meeting at the charity’s headquarters.

Ivanka Trump was part of the delegation that met Pope Francis with President Donald Trump Wednesday.

10:30 a.m.

Pope Francis shared a light moment with First Lady Melania Trump.