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Biden meets with world leaders ahead of G20 summit

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

President Biden had a deeply personal meeting today with Pope Francis. They spent almost 90 minutes together, and the president gave him a very special gift.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: You are the most significant warrior for peace I've ever met.

UNIDENTIFIED INTERPRETER: (Non-English language spoken).

BIDEN: And with your permission, I'd like to be able to give you a coin.

MARTINEZ: This was a challenge coin from the Delaware National Guard, the unit his son, the late Beau Biden, served with in Iraq. NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez was watching this from Washington. Franco, what was the significance of this gift?

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Well, Biden and Pope Francis have developed a close relationship over the years. The pope happened to be on his first visit to America in 2015, actually, which was a few months after Beau Biden died, and met with Biden and his family. This meeting today was the fourth time the two leaders have met. Biden, of course, is the nation's second Catholic president, and it seemed to be a very warm visit. Biden even joked with a point about that coin.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BIDEN: Now, the tradition is...

UNIDENTIFIED INTERPRETER: (Non-English language spoken).

BIDEN: ...And I'm only kidding about this...

UNIDENTIFIED INTERPRETER: (Non-English language spoken).

BIDEN: ...Next time I see you, if you don't have it...

UNIDENTIFIED INTERPRETER: (Non-English language spoken).

BIDEN: ...You have to buy the drinks.

UNIDENTIFIED INTERPRETER: (Non-English language spoken).

ORDOÑEZ: You know, he also gave the pope a chasuble, which is a woven garment that priests wear, from the archives of the church he attends in Washington. Biden told reporters afterward that they talked about climate change. And I'll also just add, there's been a push by some U.S. bishops to deny communion to Biden because of his support for abortion rights. Reporters asked Biden about this after the meeting, and he said the pope told him he should keep receiving communion.

MARTINEZ: Now, Biden is about to meet with French President Macron. What do you expect from this?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, it'll be their first face-to-face meeting since that unusual fight last month. Biden struck a defense deal with Australia, giving them access to U.S. technology for nuclear-powered submarines, and that meant France lost a big submarine contract that they had with Australia. Macron - he was so angry that he pulled his ambassador from Washington. U.S. officials have been trying to iron out differences ever since. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan - they both met with their counterparts, and Biden's meeting today is a crucial part of that effort. Even Jill Biden, the first lady - she's going to meet with Brigitte Macron today, and next month, Vice President Harris, he's - she is set to spend several days in Paris.

MARTINEZ: And Biden is in Rome because of the G20 summit this weekend. What will the leaders there be talking about?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, there's a lot on the agenda. The president will be sitting down with leaders to discuss energy prices and supply chain issues. Biden will also press leaders to adopt a global minimum tax. I'll note that China and Russia are not at the G20, so U.S. officials say they're going to take the opportunity, along with allies, to drive the agenda of the meetings. The president will also meet on the sidelines with the leaders of Germany, France and the U.K., and they're going to talk about the Iran nuclear program and whether it's possible to restart talks about the nuclear agreement. That's the one that former President Donald Trump backed out of. Biden's national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said they're going to compare notes on where things stand with Iran's nuclear program. But he also said he isn't sure how serious Iran is about returning to the table, which, you know, for the United States, also means coming into compliance with the original 2015 nuclear agreement.

MARTINEZ: That's NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez. Thanks a lot.

ORDOÑEZ: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.