President Barack Obama and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi met Friday and discussed a range of issues, including Libya , Ukraine and Islamic State militants. The two leaders were also expected to talk about Europe’s economy, an expected trade pact between the United States and Europe, but also energy security and climate change.
Obama welcomed reporters with “buon giorno”, which is Italian for “good day”, as the journalists were brought in to the Oval Office to report on the start of the meeting.
With Italy caught in a deep recession, Renzi also pleaded for Obama’s support for his economic program, even if it has yet to observably improve the country’s fiscal status.
Obama and Renzi will answer reporters’ questions at an East Room press conference after the meeting, then they will carry on with their talks over lunch.
Italy is also having a hard time to manage the unprecedented number of migrant people who are making the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean Sea to avoid instability in Libya and other regions of North Africa and the Middle East.
Police in the island of Sicily announced Thursday that Muslim migrants had killed 12 Christians by throwing them overboard during a recent dangerous crossing from Libya, and a human rights group said another 41 Christians were thought to have drowned in a different incident. Those tragedies followed the disaster in which 400 people were presumed to have lost their lives in the sinking of a ship close to the Libyan coast.
The Italian navy took control over a Sicilian fishing boat that had been captured overnight by unknown assailants close to the Libyan coast. This part of Mediterranean Sea has become increasingly chaotic in the last few years as hundreds of thousands of people make the treacherous trip to Europe.
A defense ministry press release added that naval personnel boarded the trawler after it was stopped by a boat 55 miles from the Libyan port of Misrata.
The ministry did explain whether there was any violent clashes with those who had captured the Italian trawler.
Recent tragedies have prompted calls for a more serious search and rescue of the waters between Europe and Libya to handle the surge in migration. Obama and Renzi met before when the U.S. president visited Italy last year, weeks after the prime minister took office.
Image Source: Lettera 43