All smiles as Pope Francis meets with Donald Trump at the Vatican

ReutersPope Francis meets U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife Melania during a private audience at the Vatican, May 24, 2017.

Pope Francis has met with Donald Trump at the Vatican this morning for just under half an hour.

Afterwards, the Pope met Trump's wife Melania, his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner as well as several other aides.

The US presidential delegation arrived at the Vatican just after 8am local time. The president was greeted by Francis in Sala del Tronetto, the room of the little throne, on the second floor of Apostolic Palace.

The men shook hands and Trump could be heard thanking the Pope and saying it was 'a great honour' to be there. They then posed for photographs before their private meeting.

The much-anticipated meeting came after historic tensions between the two men, with the Pope famously saying last year of Trump's plans for a wall with the border of Mexico and the ill-fated 'Muslim ban': 'A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.' Trump responded by saying that the Pope weas 'disgraceful'. 

But there were smiles as the two men met this morning.

Trump arrived in Rome last night, his motorcade closing a busy Italian highway just after rush hour. The President spent the night at the residence of the US ambassador to Italy.

Trump was given a tour of the Vatican after he arrived and then met with the pontiff in his library, with the two men being left alone with a translator to hold a private discussion before emerging again to exchange gifts and farewells.

Trump is the 13th president to visit the Vatican. As part of his tour, he was shown around the Sistine Chapel.

The visit to Rome begins the European leg of Trump's first, 9-day international tour which has so far taken in Saudi Arabia, Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Speaking in Israel yesterday afternoon, he said both sides of the conflict in the region are ready for peace.

'I had a meeting this morning with President Abbas and can tell you that the Palestinians are ready to reach for peace,' Trump said.

'In my meeting with my very good friend Benjamin, I can tell you also, that he is reaching for peace. He wants peace,' he added. 'Making peace, however, will not be easy. We all know that. Both sides will face tough decisions. But with determination, compromise, and the belief that peace is possible, Israelis and Palestinians can make a deal.'

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