Italy: Obama meets Italian president

Rome, 8 July(AKI) - US president Barack Obama met Italian president Giorgio Napolitano after he arrived in Rome on Wednesday with his wife Michelle and two daughters for the G8 summit. Following the meeting Obama spoke about the importance of the relationship between the US and Italy.

"The Italian government is a great friend of the United States," said Obama.

He said that the two countries "are working hand in hand in places like Afghanistan to ensure that [they're] isolating extremists and strengthening the forces of moderation around the world."

Speaking about the summit, Obama expressed his desire to discuss important issues including the financial crisis, climate change, and non-proliferation.

He stressed that "these are all issues in which the Italian government has already shown extraordinary leadership."

Meanwhile, Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi met German chancellor Angela Merkel, when they decided to drive to the central Italian city, L'Aquila, from Rome instead of taking a helicopter.

Berlusconi is reported to have taken Merkel to visit firms working on the reconstruction of the earthquake-affected areas in the region.

He also took her to the mediaeval town of Onna, close to L'Aquila, which Germany has pledged to help with reconstruction.

The G8 summit is due to last three days in the central region of Italy to discuss the global financial crisis, food security, climate change and Iran.

Leaders from Russia, Britain, Germany, Italy, France, Canada and Japan were gathering to attend the summit, as well as representatives of the European Union.


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