Obama in Rome: Culture, politics and a meeting with the Pope

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Obama in Rome: Culture, politics and a meeting with the Pope

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It is one of the perks of being President of the United States.

Barack Obama was treated to a private guided tour of the Colosseum at the end of a busy day of diplomacy in Rome.

He clearly took an interest in the amphitheatre, impressed by Italy’s ancient treasures, just as earlier, he had lavished praise on its brand new prime minister.

And the admiration was mutual. Matteo Renzi was barely able to conceal his delight at hosting Obama.

It was only last month that the 39-year-old, Italy’s youngest ever premier, took on the job, after ousting his predecessor Enrico Letta in a party coup.

The day began with a meeting at the Vatican between President Obama and Pope Francis. After almost of hour of private talks, they were all smiles, exchanging gifts.

But thorny subjects had been on the agenda in an exchange between two men with radically different views on issues like abortion and contraception.

Obama was not a welcome visitor for demonstrators who gathered near the US embassy in Rome to protest against American government policies.

Satellite spying and US military endeavours were among activists concerns, some demanding ‘Obama Go Home’.

That won’t be the case – the President’s next stop is Saudi Arabia on Friday where he is meeting King Abdullah.