President Biden and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni hailed the close bond between their countries in a White House meeting that emphasized shared values and support for Ukraine despite the political gulf between the two leaders.
It was Ms. Meloni’s first visit to Washington since becoming prime minister in October as part of a right-wing populist movement in Italy.
She told Mr. Biden the U.S.-Italy partnership is based on “shared common values and cultural roots.” And she said that bond transcends “political colors.”
“We know who our friends are in times that are tough,” she said. “After the Russian aggression against Ukraine, all together we decided to defend international law.”
Ms. Meloni, 46, is the first woman to serve as Italy’s prime minister. She and Mr. Biden, a liberal Democrat, see eye-to-eye on some issues despite the political moorings.
Like Mr. Biden, Ms. Meloni has stiff-armed domestic lawmakers who say it is time to pull back on assistance for Kyiv as it repels Russian invaders.
“Ukrainian resistance distances a world war, it does not bring it closer as some say,” she said Thursday.
Mr. Biden told her that the U.S. and Italy are “standing strong with Ukraine”
“I compliment you on your very strong support in defending against Russian atrocities, and that’s what they are,” he said during the Oval Office meeting. “And I thank the Italian people. I want to thank them for supporting you and supporting Ukraine. It makes a big difference.”
Beyond Ukraine, the leaders were expected to discuss migration from Africa and how to approach China.
A Bloomberg report said Ms. Meloni will brief Mr. Biden on Italy’s tightly orchestrated break from China and its Belt and Road development initiative, though she may not be public about it during her Washington visit.