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Secretary of State John Kerry, right, and U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Ken Francis Hackett, left, tour a section of the Vatican with chief of protocol Monsignor Jose Avelino Bettencour on Jan. 14, 2014. / Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP

President Obama is seeking to arrange a meeting with Pope Francis later this year, aides said.

"The president looks forward to meeting with the pope in the near future," said White House spokesman Jay Carney, though a date and details are still to be worked out.

Obama has praised Francis for his commitment to fighting global poverty.

Earlier, during a visit to the Vatican, Secretary of State John Kerry said, "the president is looking forward to coming here to meet with him (Francis)."

While he did not meet with the pope, Kerry said, "I know that the Holy Father is anticipating the visit of President Obama here."

From the Associated Press:

"In a brief visit to the Vatican, Kerry did not meet with Pope Francis, and said he had not expected to.

"However, he described a broad conversation with the pope's chief diplomat, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, that touched on everything ranging from violence in Syria and Africa to ending a generations-long feud between Israel and Palestine and addressing climate change and poverty.

"Kerry is the first American Roman Catholic secretary of State to visit the Vatican since Edmund Muskie more than 30 years ago."



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Obama seeks meeting with Pope Francis

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