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Pope Francis to receive Donald Trump on May 24: Vatican

© AFP/File | Pope Francis salutes people upon arrival in St. Peter's square at the Vatican for his weekly general audience on March 29, 2017

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - 

Pope Francis will receive US President Donald Trump at the Vatican on May 24, the Holy See said Thursday, ahead of a G7 summit meeting in Sicily.

Trump's audience with Francis in the morning will be followed by meetings with his Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.

While campaigning in February 2016 to become the Republican Party's nominee for the White House, Trump and the pontiff had a heated and extraordinary exchange through the media.

"Anyone, whoever he is, who only wants to build walls and not bridges is not a Christian," Pope Francis told journalists, responding to a question about the real estate mogul's anti-immigrant stance.

Trump retorted: "For a religious leader to question a person's faith is disgraceful."

Trump later softened his tone, saying the pope was misinformed, unaware of the impact of the drugs coming into the United States and a range of security issues that made it necessary to build a wall along the southern US border.

On a visit to Mexico in February 2016 Francis held an open-air mass on the US-Mexico border, where he described forced migration as "a human tragedy."

© 2017 AFP