September 20, 2014 / 6:23 PM / 4 years ago

Pope and Argentine president 'talk finance' in private at Vatican

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Argentine president Cristina Fernandez visited Pope Francis at the Vatican on Saturday, where she said the compatriots talked about the global financial system and Argentina’s economy over lunch.

Pope Francis (R) meets Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner at the Vatican September 20, 2014, in this handout courtesy of the Argentine Presidency. REUTERS/Argentine Presidency/Handout via Reuters

She and Francis, who have met several times since his election as pope, had tense relations when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, often clashing over the government’s social policies.

But Fernandez posted a photograph on Facebook on Saturday of herself with the pope in front of a picture of Argentina’s fondly-remembered late first lady Eva Peron.

Since his election in March, 2013 the pope has not been back to his home country, which is struggling with recession and the fallout from its second debt default in July.

Fernandez told reporters she and the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics discussed a Sept. 9 vote by the United Nations General Assembly to create a legal framework for sovereign debt restructurings, spurred by Argentina’s debt crisis.

“We were talking about all these things and he appeared very happy that the United Nations took this decision,” she said at Rome’s Ciampino airport after the meeting.

Fernandez gave Francis a large copy of “Mary, Untier of Knots,” a German painting of Jesus’s mother unraveling a length of fabric flanked by cherubim.

The painting, which the future pope discovered when he was a priest studying in Germany, is one of his favorites depictions of Mary.

Reporting by Isla Binnie in Rome and Eliana Raszewski in Buenos Aires; Editing by Greg Mahlich

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