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1ST LEAD Trump seeks "reciprocal" trade with Italy By Anne K Walters, dpa

Europe
21.04.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Washington (dpa) - US President Donald Trump said he was seeking a "balanced" and "reciprocal" trading partnership with Italy after meetings Thursday with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni at the White House.

"We both seek a trading relationship that is balanced, reciprocal," said Trump, who has been sharply critical of trade imbalances between the US and many other nations. "I love the word ‘reciprocal,‘ because we don‘t have too many reciprocal trading partnerships, I will tell you that, but we will very soon."

The US and Italy had some 62 billion dollars in trade last year, with the US trade deficit with Italy standing at 28 billion dollars.

The leaders also discussed the upcoming Group of Seven summit in Sicily next month, cooperation between the nations on counter-terrorism, the anti-Islamic State campaign, the situation in Libya and migration.

Trump called Italy a "key partner" in the fight against terrorism, noting it is the second largest contributor of troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, and praised it for its efforts to stabilize Libya.

Gentiloni said they had discussed the importance of fighting the division in Libya that has led to the emergence of Islamic State in the country, sparked violence and added to the flight of refugees across the Mediterranean.

"We need the region, and we need countries like Egypt and Tunisia that are close to Libya, we need a stable and unified Libya," he said. "A divided country and in conflict would make civility worse. The US role in this is very critical."

Trump however made clear he does not see a US role in Libya, saying the country was over extended elsewhere. However he noted its role in getting rid of Islamic State, including in Libya.

Trump, who has repeatedly called on NATO allies to boost defence spending, also pointed to some 30,000 US troops stationed in Italy and called on Italians to "pay their full and fair share for the cost of defence."

Gentiloni said Rome would abide by its commitments to increase defence spending under a NATO agreement, despite budgetary constraints that have kept it from spending 2 per cent of gross domestic product on defence.

"Our commitment to common defence is very clear," he said.

Trump will take part in a NATO leaders summit in Brussels next month before heading to the G7 meeting in Sicily on May 26-27.

The US president also said he looked "very much forward to meeting the pope."

The White House said a day earlier that it would request an audience for Trump with Pope Francis, but details of a possible meeting have not been announced.

The trip to Europe is to be Trump‘s first foreign trip as president.

Trump on Thursday expressed the importance of Europe, despite his earlier support for Brexit and his questioning of the role of international institutions such as the European Union.

"A strong Europe is very, very important to me as president of the United States. And it‘s also, in my opinion - in my very strong opinion, important for the United States," he said. "We want to see it. We will help it be strong, and it‘s very much to everybody‘s advantage."

 

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