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Blinken the first from Biden's Cabinet to meet with Pope Francis at Vatican

Blinken the first from Biden's Cabinet to meet with Pope Francis at Vatican
Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Monday. Photo courtesy U.S. Secretary of State/Twitter

June 28 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Monday with Pope Francis at the Vatican as part of a whirlwind tour through Europe.

The two met for about 40 minutes, according to Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni.

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During their meeting, they discussed multiple issues, including human rights and climate change, and toured the Sistine Chapel.

"It was my great honor to meet today with His Holiness in Vatican City," Blinken tweeted. "I am extremely grateful for his leadership and commitment to tackling the climate crisis and promoting human rights and human dignity around the world."

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It was the first meeting between Pope Francis and a member of President Joe Biden's Cabinet.

"[The meeting] offered the pope the occasion to recall his apostolic visit to the United States in 2015 and to express his affection for the people of America," Bruni said, according to the Vatican.

Blinken tweeted that he met with Holy See Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and Secretary for Relations with States Archbishop Paul Gallagher during Monday's visit.

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"We emphasized continued cooperation on efforts to promote our shared values and address humanitarian crises around the world," Blinken tweeted.

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Blinken called the famous Sistine Chapel "truly stunning" and that it left him "speechless."

Pope Francis previously met at the Vatican with Biden when he was vice president in 2016.

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Blinken arrived in Italy on Sunday and will be there for several days of meetings with Italian officials, Group of 20 leaders and ministerial-level officials.

He and Italian foreign minister Luigi Di Maio were scheduled to chair a meeting later Monday of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS in Rome. He will also meet with other leaders and discuss Syria.

Blinken also visited Paris and Berlin on his trip to Europe.

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