Washington: “President Barack Obama expects to speak with Pope Francis about values, not politics, when the two leaders meet”, White House spokesman Josh Earnest, said on Tuesday.
”There will be time for politics, frankly…the other 364 days of the year,” Earnest said at the daily White House briefing.
“The goal of this meeting is to give the two men the opportunity to talk about their shared values,” he added.
Pope Francis and Obama will meet in the Oval Office on Wednesday morning, before the pontiff addresses a joint session of Congress on Thursday. He will later travel to New York City and Philadelphia.
Earlier this year, Obama told The Wall Street Journal that he expects to speak with Pope Francis about poverty, climate change and conflict in the Middle East
Earnest said that “some presidential candidates” who he didn’t name, were “in the awkward position” of trying to suggest that Pope Francis was making a “political statement” when he was talking about things they don’t agree with.
Obama took a different approach, Earnest said, acknowledging up front that his meeting with Pope Francis isn’t a meeting between politicians and “isn’t an effort to advance anybody’s political agenda.”
“It’s an opportunity for two respected world leaders, with significant influence around the globe, to spend some time talking about the values that they hold in common, and to do so in an atmosphere of respect,” the White House spokesman said.
“It doesn’t mean they agree on every issue. They surely don’t,” Earnest said.
The White House spokesman said he didn’t know if the issue of abortion would come up at the meeting between the president and the pope, but said they would speak honestly to each other if it did.
“There will be a tone of respect”, Earnest said.