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Obama to meet Pope during Rome visit

President Obama was greeted by Italian and Vatican officials on his arrival in Rome

US President Barack Obama is due to meet Pope Francis for the first time on the third leg of a European tour dominated by the crisis in Ukraine.

He flew into Rome after three days of talks with EU leaders in the Netherlands and Brussels.

Tensions are high following Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

On Wednesday Mr Obama said the US and the EU were considering deeper sanctions against Moscow if there were any further incursions.

Pro-Russian forces annexed the Crimean peninsula earlier this month following a referendum that Kiev and its Western allies consider illegal.

US Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said President Obama has been inspired by Pope Francis and the way he has motivated people around the world with messages of inclusion and equality.

He said Mr Obama planned to express his appreciation for the Pope’s leadership.

The BBC’s Alan Johnston in Rome says the two men have very different views on subjects such as abortion, contraception and gay marriage, but at this meeting they are likely to emphasise what they share.

After meeting the Pope, President Obama is due to meet Italian President Giorgio Napolitano at the presidential palace.

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