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Biden and Meloni Look to Strengthen US-Italy Ties at White House Meeting

By Jake Beardslee · July 27, 2023

In brief…

  • President Biden is hosting Italian PM Giorgia Meloni at the White House for their first official meeting since they met earlier this month at the NATO summit.
  • Key topics will include continued support for Ukraine and countering China's global influence.
  • Meloni's steadfast support for Ukraine has pleasantly surprised Biden officials
  • As a conservative, Meloni's domestic agenda remains at odds with Biden's.
  • Italy is seen as a key U.S. ally and has played a constructive role on America's behalf within the EU and NATO.
President Biden meets with Italian PM Giorgia Meloni at White House. The two leaders have developed effective partnership in Ukraine.  The White House, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

President Biden is hosting Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni at the White House for their first official meeting since both leaders attended the NATO summit in Lithuania earlier this month.

The leaders are expected to discuss continued support for Ukraine and coordination with their European allies. As a leading member of the European Union, G7 and NATO, Italy plays a vital role in maintaining transatlantic cooperation on major economic and security issues.

Migration is also on the White House agenda, as Italy experiences significant migration from the Middle East and North Africa due to its geographical Mediterranean location.

While there were ideological jitters within the administration when Meloni’s far-right coalition won Italy’s election last October, White House officials have been pleasantly surprised by Meloni and her steadfast support for the Biden’s Ukraine policies.

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said, “The president has enjoyed working with her. And certainly on issues of foreign policy, there’s been a lot of overlapping and mutually reinforcing approaches that that were taken with Italy,” adding, “Italy is a NATO ally - and they are a very competent NATO ally. They’ve been a tremendous supporter of Ukraine. They’re hosting something like 170,000 Ukrainians on Italian soil.”

The two leaders are also expected to discuss China as Italy weighs renewing its participation in China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Italy sign on to China’s BRI in 2019, making it the only European nation to do so. Countering Chinese influence in Europe and globally is a key Biden administration goal - a fact well understood by Meloni.

However, not all is in alignment between Biden the liberal and Meloni the populist conservative. Their domestic policies on abortion and LGBTQ rights remain at odds. Even so, the two leaders appear to be singing from the same page on the international issue that concerns them most: The war in Ukraine.