VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Francis has met privately with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and expressed his “affection” and “attention” to the U.S. people. The Vatican said the two men spoke Monday for about 40 minutes, which is a good deal of time as papal audiences go, especially in view that Blinken isn’t the top U.S. administration leader.

Before his sit-down with Francis, Blinken received a guided, VIP tour of the Sistine Chapel. In 2020, when the Trump’s administration secretary of state came to the Vatican, Francis didn’t grant him a meeting in view of the approaching U.S. presidential election.

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