VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis, who travels with journalists aboard the papal plane, is expanding his reach when he meets with members of Italy’s 400-strong foreign press association at the Vatican on May 18.

The Argentine-born Francis, the first pope from Latin America, occasionally gives interviews to foreign correspondents. But this will be the first time he will meet separately with such a large group of international journalists. The Vatican announced the move Wednesday.

Francis generally faces questions on issues ranging from the worldwide clerical sex-abuse scandal to efforts to restore diplomatic relations with communist China.

Pope John Paul II was the first pontiff in modern history to take questions from journalists, and in 1988 visited the offices of the Associazione della Stampa Estera, as the foreign press club is called in Italian.