President Cristina Fernández (with a sprained ankle in a boot) and Pope Francis shared on Monday a lunch which lasted two hours and a half at Santa Marta residence in the Vatican. It's the third time the Argentine head of state and Francis meet since he was elected pontiff one year ago.
Cristina Fernández arrived in Rome on Sunday and was received by former Internal Trade Secretary Guillermo Moreno as part of his new role as trade attaché with the Argentine embassy.
On Monday the Argentine leader visited the Santa Marta residence and after exchanging official gifts with Pope Francis, shared a meal while the rest of the delegation held meetings with their Vatican counterparts.
After the encounter Cristina Fernandez left for Ciampino, from where she travelled to France in order to meet with President Francois Hollande. In a press conference held before boarding the plane the head of state called for people to listen more to the pontiff.
[The pope] made a strong appeal in order to maintain unity between the people of Latin America, she revealed, also criticizing those who go to take their photo [with Francis], but then do not listen to him.
Cristina Fernandez explained that the subject of world peace was also discussed, along with another issue of concern for the Pope: the lack of work for young people.” Domestic political subjects, according to the president, were not discussed.
When the Argentine president arrived in Santa Marta residence a few minutes late reporters and even Pope Francis were stunned when they noted Cristina Fernández had a boot in her left leg due to a sprained ankle.
“I sprained my ankle last night at the hotel,” Cristina told reporters as she walked towards the Pontiff who was waiting for her.
According to a communiqué released by the Presidential Medical Unit, and signed by Doctor Marcelo Ballesteros, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner suffered last night a sprain in her left ankle while walking inside the hotel room she is staying at while her visit to Rome.
The statement added the president underwent “a nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI) at the Umberto I university hospital in Rome, which confirmed the left ankle sprain.”
The head of state and the Pope held their third meeting since the Argentine was elected pontiff on March 13, 2013. On his inauguration mass a year ago, later at the Youth Day in Rio do Janeiro on 28 July.
The aim of the visit on Monday was to present the Holy Father with the greetings and good wishes of the people of Argentina on the occasion of the first anniversary of his Pontificate.
According to the press release, the Pope awaited the arrival of President Kirchner at the front door of the Domus Santa Marta shortly after 1pm. The audience took place in a room on the ground floor, first with the entire Delegation, afterwards, with the President alone. At about 1.30pm, the Pope and the President shared a frugal lunch with Italian pasta and cheese.
Before sitting for lunch and as tradition dictates, Pope Francis and Argentine President Cristina Fernández exchanged official gifts.
The head of state handed a thermos bottle over to the Pope, which is used in Argentina to keep the water hot enough for the “mate” South American infusion. She also gave him two books about Argentina’s Bicentenary; and a painting of Saint Rose of Lima, made with Malbec wine.
The pontiff gave the president an image of Argentine Liberator José de San Martín made in bronze and a rosary, a present he handed over to the entire delegation, constituted, among others, by Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman, Public Communications Secretary Alfredo Scoccimarro, Cult Secretary Guillermo Oliveri, and the Argentine Ambassador to the Vatican Juan Pablo Cafiero.
In France Cristina Fernandez will be opening the Paris Book Fair but will also meet president Francois Hollande, with whom she has several issues to discuss. These include the Paris Club negotiations between Argentina and creditor nations to the tune of 10 billion dollars, defaulted since 2001/02; French support in Argentina's litigation with hedge funds, probably at the US Supreme Court and a good word ('amicus curiare') from Paris and the IMF could help.
Most probably also the Crimea situation and the referendum to which the Argentine president also referred complaining that self determination is not valid in Crimea but yes for the Falkland Islands.