Pope Francis took a step toward smoothing over a turbulent relationship with Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner Monday, with the feisty Latin American leader boasting of a kiss by the former archbishop of Buenos Aires.
"Never in my life has a pope kissed me!" she said after becoming the first foreign head of state to meet with the new pontiff.
During their meeting, Kirchner asked the pope to intervene in the Falkland Islands dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom. The island's residents voted this month—with a decisive 1,513 to three result—to remain part of the U.K., but Kirchner insists that they are part of Argentina—as have other Argentinian administrations, including the military junta that in 1982 launched an unsuccessful war to capture them.
"We want a dialogue, and that's why we asked the pope to intervene so that the dialogue is successful," Kirchner said after the meeting, according to the Los Angeles Times.
During then-cardinal Jorge Bergoglio's 1998-2013 reign as archbishop in Argentina, he and Kirchner tangled over her progressive social policies, most notably her successful 2010 push to legalize same-sex marriage. Bergoglio called the proposal "a destructive attack on God's plan." According to CNN, she responded by accusing him of holding "attitudes reminiscent of medieval times and the Inquisition."
On Tuesday Francis will be formally installed as pope. Vice President Joe Biden, who is a Catholic, will be in attendance to represent the U.S.