President Biden to meet Pope Francis and President Macron in Rome

Pope Francis is due to receive the U.S. President, Joe Biden, who is the second Catholic to be President in the history of the United States.

According to the White House, the meeting with Biden and his wife, Jill, at the Vatican on Friday at 12noon (1000 GMT) would focus on the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Their focus would also be on climate change and the global fight against poverty, among other issues.

In the afternoon, Biden is scheduled to meet the officials of the Italian Government.

Afterwards, he was to meet French President Emmanuel Macron in order to smooth the waters after the recent rift in relations with the ally over the submarine crisis.

Biden’s second trip abroad since taking office in January takes him first to Rome, where he planned to attend the G20 summit of leading economic nations from Saturday.

From Monday, he planned to take part in the COP26 World Climate Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

It remained unclear whether Biden’s audience with the Pope would include the controversial issue of abortion.

Biden’s government supports the right to abortion, which is at odds with the position of the Catholic Church.

Individual U.S. bishops have called for Biden to be excluded from taking Communion. The 78-year-old, who went to church regularly, was considered a devout Catholic.

On his first day in office, Biden’s office already contained family photos and a photograph of him with Pope Francis.

The first Catholic president in U.S. history was John F Kennedy (1961-63).

Biden’s meeting with Macron was also eagerly awaited.

The relationship between the transatlantic partners has been very tense lately, as the U.S. launched a security pact with Australia and Britain in the Indo-Pacific in September without consulting Paris.

The pact caused a multibillion-dollar submarine deal between Australia and France to collapse, which led to angry reactions in Paris. (DPA/NAN)