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Obama meets with Pope Francis

Vatican City (AP) -- The first meeting between President Barack Obama and Pope Francis lasted nearly an hour Thursday, and Obama described himself a "great admirer" of the pontiff.

The two were scheduled to meet for half an hour, but their private discussion lasted 52 minutes. Obama presented the pope with a seed chest with fruit and vegetable seeds used in the White House Garden, in honor of the pope's announcement earlier this year that he's opening the gardens of the papal summer residence to the public.

Obama arrived on an overcast morning at the Vatican's ornate grounds. After a slow procession through the hallways of the Apostolic Palace led by colorful Swiss Guards, the president bowed as he shook hands with the pontiff.

Obama considers Francis a kindred spirit on issues of economic inequality, though his administration and the church remain deeply split on issues of abortion and contraception.

 
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