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Pope To Meet Top US Diplomat Blinken

Channels Television  
Updated June 25, 2021
Pope Francis delivers his Urbi et Orbi Blessing after celebrating Easter Mass on April 04, 2021 at St. Peter’s Basilica in The Vatican during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. Filippo MONTEFORTE / POOL / AFP

 

Pope Francis will next week meet with Secretary of State Antony Blinken in the pontiff’s highest-ranking talks yet with the new US administration, officials said Friday.

Blinken, on a tour of Europe, will see both Pope Francis and Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the pope’s de facto foreign minister, on Monday at the Vatican, a State Department spokesperson said.

Francis has spoken in support of some key goals of President Joe Biden’s administration, including stepping up the fight against climate change and showing compassion towards refugees.

The Vatican also played a key role in the behind-the-scenes diplomacy by the last Democratic administration under Barack Obama in normalising relations with Cuba, a process reversed by former president Donald Trump.

Trump had an at times difficult relationship with Francis, who during the mogul’s 2016 run for president criticised his push to build a wall on the US border with Mexico.

The pope notably declined to meet Blinken’s predecessor, Mike Pompeo, shortly before last year’s election, fearing being used for Trump’s political benefit.

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(FILES) In this file photo, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken addresses reporters during his first press briefing at the State Department in Washington, DC, on January 27, 2021 CARLOS BARRIA / POOL / AFP

 

Pompeo, an evangelical Christian, had spoken out against Francis over a 2018 agreement that gives Beijing a say in the naming of Chinese bishops by the Vatican.

Biden is a devout Catholic and his administration, while also sharply critical of China’s human rights record, has steered clear of commenting on the Vatican’s relationship with Beijing.

AFP