The Vatican says Pope Francis emphasized Egypt's role in establishing Middle East peace during a meeting with the country's president.

Francis and Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met privately for about 20 minutes at the Vatican on al-Sisi's first visit to Europe since taking office, exchanging gifts before parting: a papal medallion for al-Sisi and a silver box for Francis.

The Vatican said the pope emphasized the need for dialogue and negotiation to bring an end to regional conflicts.

Al-Sisi meets later with Italian Premier Matteo Renzi and then Tuesday with Italian and Egyptian entrepreneurs before continuing to Paris. Al-Sisi's visit is expected to focus on investment, fighting terrorism and the flows of migrants from conflicts in the Middle East and Africa toward Europe, where Italy is often the first stop.