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Obama, Billy Graham meet, pray together

Obama, Billy Graham meet, pray together
The Rev. Billy Graham in New York, June 24, 2005. (UPI Photo/Monika Graff) | License Photo

MONTREAT, N.C., April 25 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama prayed Sunday with the Rev. Billy Graham at the 91-year-old evangelist's mountaintop home in North Carolina, the White House said.

Obama, concluding a North Carolina vacation, spent about 30 minutes at the log cabin, during which he spoke and prayed privately with Graham.

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White House spokesman Bill Burton said Graham was "an important spiritual leader for past presidents and for the American people for decades."

"He's a real treasure for our country," Burton said. "The president appreciates the opportunity to visit him at his home."

Obama spoke on the phone with Graham to wish him a happy birthday in November but had never met him, Burton said.

Obama is the first sitting president to visit Graham at his home in Montreat, The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer reported, citing a Graham spokesman.

Richard Nixon visited as vice president but not as president. In May 2007, three former presidents -- Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton -- came to Charlotte for the dedication of the Billy Graham Library.

Though retired, Graham remains one of the most admired Americans, Gallup polls indicate.

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Obama also met Sunday with Graham's son Franklin, an evangelist.

The U.S. Army last week canceled Franklin Graham's scheduled Pentagon speech after a military advocacy group objected to his reported derogatory remarks about Islam.

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