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Pope chats at Vatican with president of Argentine homeland

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis chatted privately at the Vatican with the president of his native country, Argentina, on Friday. President Alberto Fernandez and Francis, the first pope from Latin America, spoke for about 45 minutes in the pontiff's library. The two men last met informally in August, at the pope's residence hotel in Vatican City. That was two months before Fernandez, a left-leaning Peronist candidate, was elected Argentina's president.

The Vatican didn't provide details of the meeting, including whether the Argentine leader had invited Francis to visit Argentina. Francis hasn't been in his homeland since 2013, when he came to Rome as archbishop of Buenos Aires to elect the Catholic Church's next pope.

That conclave of cardinals chose him to be pontiff. While Francis has since visited other South American countries as pope, he hasn't been back to Argentina. Accompanying Fernandez and joining him after the private part of the pope-president meeting was the Argentine first lady, Fabiola Yanez. Fernandez handed the pope a pen to sign a red-leather bound volume of some of Francis' writings. Francis wrote some words in the volume before handing it back to the president.

Yanez and Francis chatted for a couple of minutes while the president stood by. She saw Francis last month at the inauguration at the Vatican of an educational foundation that the pope wanted established.

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