Obama Meets at White House With Italy's Berlusconi
By Scott Wilson
President Obama hosted Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi today at the White House, where they discussed the fragile global economy and the G-8 summit in Italy next month that is designed to improve it.
The two leaders met earlier this year at the G-20 summit in London, and Obama hailed the prime minister as "a great friend of the United States."
As proof of his support, Obama cited Italy's deployment of troops in Afghanistan and Berlusconi's decision to accept three detainees from the Guantanamo Bay military prison.
Before traveling to the G-8 summit next month, Obama will stop in Russia to hold arms-control talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Obama said today that Berlusconi, whom he described as having "strong relationships with the Russians," provided some "insight in terms of how to approach reductions in nuclear arsenals."
"And that hopefully is going to be a topic at the G-8 summit, as well," Obama said.
Berlusconi, a wealthy and colorful media mogul who is enmeshed in an ugly divorce at home, said, "It is extremely comforting and a pleasure to see that the destiny of the biggest democracy in the world is in very good hands."
"I hope my staff all caught that,' Obama said to laughter.
Posted at 8:29 PM ET on Jun 15, 2009
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