Pope 'terrific', Saudi 'spectacular': Trump waxes lyrical on foreign tour

Pope Francis talks with U.S. President Donald Trump during a private audience at the Vatican, May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandra Tarantino/Pool

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Donald Trump thinks Pope Francis is “terrific” and found his “spectacular” royal welcome in Saudi Arabia “beyond anything anyone’s ever seen”.

Regaling EU officials in Brussels with his impressions so far of his first foreign tour, the U.S. president was in hyperbolic form on his seventh day of travels, which are partly aimed at reassuring allies that Washington is still a reliable partner under the former real estate developer and reality TV star.

Asked by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker as they began talks in front of a battery of cameras if he was tired, Trump, 70, said he had “covered a lot of countries, lot of leaders, some great leaders”.

Prompted by European Council President Donald Tusk, who called images of the Saudi visit “spectacular”, Trump replied: “It was very spectacular. I don’t think there was ever anything like that. I think that was beyond anything anyone’s ever seen.”

During a reception with King Salman in Riyadh on Saturday, Trump seemed to join in briefly with sword-wielding men in traditional robes who danced for the leaders’ entertainment.

He then traveled on to meet the Israeli and Palestinian leaders and was in Rome on Wednesday to meet the Italian government and Pope Francis for the first time.

“We went to the Pope,” Trump told Tusk and Juncker. “Very impressive. The Pope is terrific.”

Reporting by Alastair Macdonald and Robert-Jan Bartunek; Writing by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Mark Trevelyan