President Obama met with Pope Benedict for the first time today at the Vatican, the AP reports. The White House press secretary predicted a “frank discussion. I think that there's a lot that they agree on that they'll get a chance to discuss,” said Robert Gibbs. Though the pontiff and the president disagree on abortion and stem cell research, their shared interests include Middle East peace and the plight of developing nations.
In a public session open to reporters, Obama called the audience “a great honor.” In a concession to the president’s schedule, the Vatican scheduled the meeting in the afternoon, not the traditional midday hour. Benedict inquired about the recent G8 summit, which Obama said “was very productive.” Upon leaving, Obama said he looks “forward to a very strong relationship between our two countries.” (Read more Pope Benedict XVI stories.)