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Barack Obama Meets Pope Francis, But Did They Discuss Obamacare And Contraception?

27/03/2014 13:39 GMT | Updated 27/03/2014 15:59 GMT

With beaming smiles, Barack Obama and Pope Francis have emerged from their first 52-minute discussion in the Vatican.

But while controversial subjects were on the agenda, the content of their first meeting remains, for now, shrouded in mystery.

Greeting each other warmly with gifts, two of the world's most powerful men had much to talk about. Contraception and Obamacare, causing great conflict between the Obama administration and the Catholic Church in the US, were on the table for discussion.

Immigration too, and inequality, were a safe bet as topics for the meeting in the Vatican City.

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Heading into the library, Obama turned to the Pope and said: “It is a great honour. I’m a great admirer. Thank you so much for receiving me.

“I bring greetings from my family. The last time I came here to meet your predecessor, I was able to bring my wife and children.”

So far, so pleasant.

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"In general, they'll be looking for areas of conversation where there is great agreement between the Vatican and the administration," said Steve Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America, told CNN.

"The Pope will likely bring up immigration in a broad way ... and I do think there's a possibility the bishops' concerns about contraception in the (Affordable Care Act) might be mentioned."

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The meeting has taken place just two days after the Supreme Court heard a challenge to contraception offered under Obamacare.

It excludes churches from the requirement to provide contraception cover, but religious charities are not exempt, resulting in outrage from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Both men have given each other gifts, with Obama presenting the pope with a specially-designed seed chest featuring seeds of the fruit and vegetables grown in the White House Garden.

The chest itself was made from reclaimed wood from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, according to the New York Times.