Pope Francis is due to receive the U.S. President, Joe Biden, who is only the second Catholic head of state in the history of the U.S.
According to the White House, the meeting with Biden and his wife, Jill, at the Vatican on Friday at 12 p.m. (1000 GMT) would focus on the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Their focus would also be on climate change and the global fight against poverty, among other issues.
In the afternoon, Biden was scheduled to meet the Italian Government.
Afterwards, he was to meet French President Emmanuel Macron in order to smooth the waters after the recent rift in relations with the ally over the submarine crisis.
Biden’s second trip abroad since taking office in January takes him first to Rome, where he planned to attend the G20 summit of leading economic nations from Saturday.
From Monday, he planned to take part in the COP26 World Climate Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.
It remained unclear whether Biden’s audience with the Pope would include the controversial issue of abortion.
Biden’s government supports the right to abortion, which is at odds with the position of the Catholic Church.
Individual U.S. bishops have called for Biden to be excluded from taking Communion. The 78-year-old, who went to church regularly, was considered a devout Catholic.
On his first day in office, Biden’s office already contained family photos and a photograph of him with Pope Francis.
The first Catholic president in U.S. history was John F Kennedy (1961-63).
Biden’s meeting with Macron was also eagerly awaited.
The relationship between the transatlantic partners has been very tense lately, as the U.S. launched a security pact with Australia and Britain in the Indo-Pacific in September without consulting Paris.
The pact caused a multibillion-dollar submarine deal between Australia and France to collapse, which led to angry reactions in Paris. (dpa/NAN)