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Pope Francis' visit to the United States

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Pope Francis. AP photo Pope Francis. AP photo

(NBC News) - Pope Francis will touch down at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington on Tuesday afternoon, with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and their wives greeting him on the tarmac.

The six-day visit will mark the popular pontiff's first time in the United States and include a packed schedule through Washington, New York and Philadelphia.

Presidents rarely welcome foreign leaders at the airport, although President George W. Bush set a precedent when he met Pope Benedict XVI at Andrews in 2008.  

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Francis is arriving from Cuba, where he held his first papal Mass in the region in front of thousands and had an audience with President Raul Castro and Fidel Castro.  

The pope's trip begins in earnest Wednesday morning with a ceremony on the White House South Lawn. On Thursday, he'll address a joint session of Congress and then fly to New York. On Friday, he will speak at the United Nations and celebrate Mass at Madison Square Garden.

On Saturday and Sunday, he will be in Philadelphia for World Meeting of the Families, a conference billed as the largest gathering of Catholic families. 

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