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Pope Francis meets with Argentina's Cristina Hernandez

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In his first meeting with a head of state Tuesday, Pope Francis greeted fellow Argentinian President Cristina Hernandez de Kirchner with smiles and gifts even though the two have clashed repeatedly in the past over her legalizing same-sex marriage, mandating sex education in the schools and other public policies.

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Fernandez gave Francis a picture of a marble monument honoring the 30th anniversary of John Paul II's negotiations, and then used the opportunity to bring up the issue of sovereignty over the Falklands.

They also seemed to have patched up their relationship.

Fernandez gave the new pope a mate gourd and straw, to hold the traditional Argentine tea that Francis loves, and he gave her a kiss.

"Never in my life has a pope kissed me!" Fernandez said afterward. 

Meanwhile, workers put up barriers in St. Peter's square ahead of Tuesday’s papal installation mass.

The new pope faces a grab bag of controversies, including his role as the top Jesuit during Argentina's so-called 'Dirty War' of the late 1970s and claims by some that Pope Francis didn't do enough to save people from the murderous military dictatorship.

Others said Francis did battle the junta. But he did it privately.

But for now, the honeymoon continues. The first non-European pope in a thousand years is winning fans with his simple, spontaneous manner which is more akin to a local pastor than to a world leader.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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