Netanyahu and Pope Francis
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, presents Pope Francis with a Menorah during their meeting at the Vatican, Monday, Dec. 2, 2013. Photo by AP
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Reuters
Pope Francis (2nd R) talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2nd L) and his wife Sara during a private audience at the Vatican December 2, 2013. Photo by Reuters

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Pope Francis in the Vatican on Monday as part of his visit to Rome.

Netanyahu, who was accompanied by his wife Sara, gifted the pope a book about the Spanish inquisition written by his father Benzion Netanyahu, a prominent historian. It bore the inscription: "To His Holiness Pope Francis, great guardian of our common heritage."

The pontiff gave the Israeli premier a carved panel of Saint Paul.

At the end of the 25-minute meeting, Netanyahu's wife told the pope: "We are expecting you, we can't wait."

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said no date has been set for the trip.

Netanyahu had hoped to meet the pope in October, when he visited Rome for talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. But the Vatican said Francis was too busy, fueling Israeli media speculation of a snub.

Netanyahu is to take part in an Italy-Israel summit later Monday.

On Sunday, he reiterated his concerns about the international community going soft on Iran following last month's interim deal on the country's nuclear program.

"Iran aspires to attain an atomic bomb. It would thus threaten not only Israel but also Italy, Europe and the entire world," Netanyahu said at a ceremony at Rome's synagogue, where he was accompanied by his Italian counterpart Enrico Letta.

"The most dangerous regime in the world must not be allowed to have the most dangerous weapon in the world," Netanyahu said.