President Trump endorsed Italy’s handling of immigration issues as he welcomed the country’s new prime minister to the White House for talks on trade and the military.
Trump said at the start of his meeting with Italy’s Giuseppe Conte on Monday that the country’s new populist government “has taken a very firm stance on the border.”
The president said other European countries should follow Italy’s lead on migration issues.
Mr Trump told Mr Conte in the Oval Office; “I agree very much what you’re doing with respect to migration, illegal immigration and even legal immigration.”
Italy under Conte’s new government has pushed for the European Union to accept tens of thousands of migrants coming across the Mediterranean Sea every year. The meeting follows a recent standoff over a private aid boat carrying more than 200 people who were rescued at sea. Italy, Malta and France all refused to let the vessel disembark.
Mr Trump used Mr Conte as an opportunity to reiterate threats of a government shutdown in order to secure funding for border security, including a wall at the US-Mexico border.
Mr Trump said; “I would have no problem doing a shutdown. It’s time we had border security.” Asked about specific requirements, he said he had no “red line.” “I’ll always leave room for negotiation,”
When asked by a reporter, the US president also said he would “certainly meet” with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani if the Iranian leader was willing, adding he would do it with “no preconditions.”
He said he believes in meetings and is pointing to the benefits of recent meetings with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
Trump welcomed the prime minister to the White House for the first time since the Italian leader came to power in June, bringing together two outsider leaders who have emerged from populist waves within their countries.
Mr Conte leads the euroskeptic coalition of the 5-Star Movement, which considers itself anti-establishment, and the right-wing, north-based League party