Biden meets with Pope and Macron ahead of G20 summit

By Kara Fox, Aditi Sangal, Kathryn Snowdon, Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 4:31 p.m. ET, October 29, 2021
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10:36 a.m. ET, October 29, 2021

Biden meets with Italian Prime Minister Draghi

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

Italy's Prime Minister, Mario Draghi (R) greets US President Joe Biden upon his arrival for their meeting at the Chigi palace in Rome on October 29, 2021
Italy's Prime Minister, Mario Draghi (R) greets US President Joe Biden upon his arrival for their meeting at the Chigi palace in Rome on October 29, 2021 (Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images)

President Biden is meeting with the Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi following an earlier meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella.

Both meetings came after he and the first lady have an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

The Bidens touched down in Rome on Friday morning local time after departing Washington on Thursday.

Biden will attend the G20 Summit this weekend and is slated to hold a series of key meetings with world leaders in Rome. He will then travel to Glasgow on Monday to attend COP26, a UN climate summit.

Watch:

10:06 a.m. ET, October 29, 2021

Biden is on his way to a meeting with the Italian prime minister

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

President Biden has departed the Italian presidential palace after a courtesy call. Cameras caught him making small talk with the president as they walked out of the palace.

Biden is en route now to the Chigi Palace for a bilateral meeting with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

He is running about 45 minutes behind schedule.

10:12 a.m. ET, October 29, 2021

Biden met Italian President Sergio Mattarella

President Joe Biden is greeted by Italy's President Sergio Mattarella at the Quirinale Palace in Rome on October 29.
President Joe Biden is greeted by Italy's President Sergio Mattarella at the Quirinale Palace in Rome on October 29. (Evan Vucci/AP)

President Biden met Italian President Sergio Mattarella after a meeting with Pope Francis.

Biden is in Rome ahead of the G20 summit.

10:03 a.m. ET, October 29, 2021

Key things to know about Biden and Macron's clash last month over a Australian submarine deal

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech at the Élysée Palace in Paris on October 29.
French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech at the Élysée Palace in Paris on October 29. (Stephane De Sakutin/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

President Biden is set to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron soon in Rome,their first in-person meeting following last month's major diplomatic dust-up over an agreement for the US and United Kingdom to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines.

The highly anticipated bilateral meeting between the long-standing allies will take place ahead of the Group of 20 meeting in Rome and the United Nations' subsequent climate summit in Glasgow.

Last month, the US, the United Kingdom and Australia announced a new partnership that includes providing assistance to help Australia develop nuclear-powered submarines — a deal France says was made without its knowledge, jeopardizing an existing contract worth billions to provide Australia with diesel-powered submarines.

The rift escalated to the rare point that France temporarily recalled its US ambassador, and even Biden was caught off-guard by how furious French officials became over the matter.

In mid-September, the two leaders spoke over the phone, appearing to ease some of the tensions.

During the 30-minute call, Biden appeared to acknowledge missteps in how his administration had approached the talks. And, importantly, a joint statement about the call noted that "the two leaders have decided to open a process of in-depth consultations, aimed at creating the conditions for ensuring confidence and proposing concrete measures toward common objectives."

Friday's bilateral meeting marks an opportunity for those consultations to lead to concrete announcements, Célia Belin, a visiting fellow at the Center on the United States and Europe at The Brookings Institution, told CNN.

"The meeting between the two leaders will be the occasion to make some announcements and to see whether or not ... this crisis was the occasion to define ... a new common agenda, or if there are sort of long, lingering issues that cannot be addressed," Belin told CNN.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Thursday that the Biden administration feels "very good about the intensive engagement that we've had with France over the course of the past few weeks," noting his own recent visit to Paris, the President's two calls with Macron since the submarines spat and Secretary of State Antony Blinken's Paris trip.

10:55 a.m. ET, October 29, 2021

Biden will meet key figures on Friday ahead of the G20 summit and the COP26 climate conference

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

President Joe Biden takes a photo with Italy's President Sergio Mattarella prior to a meeting at the Quirinale Palace in Rome on October 29.
President Joe Biden takes a photo with Italy's President Sergio Mattarella prior to a meeting at the Quirinale Palace in Rome on October 29. (Evan Vucci/AP)

President Biden is in Rome and met Pope Francis Friday ahead of the first in-person G20 summit since the pandemic on Saturday, where leaders from the world's 20 leading economies will convene. It comes ahead of crucial COP26 climate talks in Scotland.

Here's what is coming up on Biden's agenda today:

  • Biden is expected to soon meet Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Italian PM Mario Draghi separately.
  • He is also scheduled for a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, which will be their first in-person meeting since diplomatic tensions arose between US and France after Australia pulled out of its existing multi-billion dollar defense deal with France, and agreed instead to attain nuclear-powered submarines through a new deal with the US and the UK, costing France billions of dollars.

At the COP26 conference, Biden is expected to reaffirm US commitment to taking action against climate change.

Meanwhile, protesters have gathered in London and across the world on Friday, demanding that big finance defunds fossil fuel investments.

Pressure groups are demonstrating at over 50 locations across Europe, North America, Africa and Australia ahead of COP26, which begins in Glasgow this weekend.

9:32 a.m. ET, October 29, 2021

Biden to Pope: "You are the most significant warrior for peace I've ever met"

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt and Kevin Liptak

In video released from President Biden's meeting with Pope Francis, Biden gifted the pontiff with a military coin and cracked some jokes.

The footage from Vatican Television showed Biden handing Pope Francis a special coin with a deep personal significance: it bore the insignia of the 261st Signal Brigade, the Delaware National Guard unit in which his late son Beau served as a captain.

"I know my son would want me to give it to you," Biden said. In 2015, the Pope privately counseled Biden and members of his family in the months following Beau Biden's death.

Biden said the coins are given to "warriors and leaders," and called Francis "the most significant warrior for peace I've ever met."

After, Biden joked the Pope would have to buy him a drink if he doesn't have the coin the next time they meet.

"On the back of it, I have the state of Delaware, the 261st Unit my son served with. The tradition is — and I'm only kidding about this — next time I see you [and] you don't have it, you have to buy the drinks," Biden said to the Pope through a translator.  

The Pope laughed at Biden's joke.

"I’m the only Irishman you’ve ever met who’s never had a drink," Biden said, before the Pope quipped that "Irish people love whisky."

Then Biden, 78, joked about age with Francis, 84. Biden relayed a story about trailblazing Black baseball player Satchel Paige, and described his attitude toward aging: "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?"

"You're 65," he said. "I'm 60. God love you."

The Bidens also presented the Pope with other gifts, including an embroidered vestment used by the Society of Jesus in the US, according to CNN's Delia Gallagher.

The pontiff also shook hands with US officials.

The meeting between the President and the Pope lasted 90 minutes. It was the fourth time Biden met with him.

Watch the moment:

9:27 a.m. ET, October 29, 2021

Biden's meeting with Pope Francis was almost twice as long as his meeting with Pope John Paul II

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins 

President Joe Biden speaks with Pope Francis as they meet at the Vatican on October 29.
President Joe Biden speaks with Pope Francis as they meet at the Vatican on October 29. (Vatican Media/AP)

The White House says there was a “clear rapport” between President Biden and Pope Francis as they met for 90 minutes today — a meeting that was almost twice as long as Biden’s meeting with John Paul II in the 1980s, which he often recalls for its length. 

The engagement between the two “was very warm when the delegation arrived in the room,” an official says. “There was laughter and clear rapport between President Biden and the Pope.”

Biden was the 14th US president to meet with a pope at the Vatican. It was the first time he visited the Vatican since 2016, when he was still reeling from the loss of his son Beau to cancer a year earlier.

10:54 a.m. ET, October 29, 2021

Protesters around the world are demanding that banks defund fossil fuels on the eve of COP26

From CNN's Kara Fox and Angela Dewan

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg is expected to join protesters who have gathered in London and across the world on Friday, demanding that big finance defunds fossil fuel investments.

Pressure groups are demonstrating at over 50 locations across Europe, North America, Africa and Australia ahead of COP26, which begins in Glasgow this weekend.

The demonstrations aim to highlight the role that big finance is playing in exacerbating the climate crisis.

Organizers argue that banks have poured $3.8 trillion into fossil fuel extraction since the 2015 Paris agreement, despite net zero targets.

Giant murals will be painted in global financial centers using ash from houses that have been destroyed in wildfires, they said.

Joseph Sikulu, from the Pacific Climate Warriors group, a youth-led grassroots network working with communities to fight climate change from the Pacific Islands, said that “financial institutions that continue to invest in dirty fossil fuel projects are also investing in the destruction of our islands and our homes."

"It’s time for the corporations who have caused this crisis to be held accountable," he said, adding:

“The science is clear. We need to do everything we can to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, the survival of our islands depends on that. To get there we need to defund the climate chaos.

In the City of London, activists will take part in climate memorials outside major banks and insurers with a candle-lit vigil taking place at the Bank of England in the City o at 5:30 p.m. ET local time (12:30 p.m ET)

Activist Mitzi Jonelle Tan, who traveled thousands of miles to demonstrate in London on Friday, said that the issue is personal.

“I know the families in Bulacan, Philippines forced from their homes because of a project funded by Standard Chartered Bank. That’s why I’ve traveled thousands of miles to stand on the steps of the bank’s HQ in the City of London and demand they defund fossil fuel."

Tan added that climate change has already taken the lives of millions of people around the world and that extreme weather has been linked to nearly 10% of global deaths -- resulting in around five million annual deaths.

“The global day of action will be a moment to honor their memories and ensure that they did not die in vain," Tan said.

10:55 a.m. ET, October 29, 2021

The Pope has departed after his meeting with Biden

President Joe Biden and Pope Francis meet at the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City on October 29.
President Joe Biden and Pope Francis meet at the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City on October 29. (Vatican Media/Pool/Getty Images)

Pope Francis departed after his private audience with President Biden and the expanded meeting with the US delegation at the Vatican.

His meeting with Biden lasted 90 minutes, after which he and 10 Papal Gentlemen met with a larger US delegation, including the President, first lady Jill Biden, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, and others, according to the White House.