Two “outsiders” to politics meet. Here it’s how it went.
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Politico / AP / Reuters / New York Times / Euronews / TGCOM / ANSA:  Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and US President Donald Trump held a joint press conference following a meeting between the two.

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Mr. Conte’s visit, coming as those in Mr. Trump’s party grappled with his comments on immigration, appeared to be a welcome one for Mr. Trump. During the visit, Mr. Trump repeatedly emphasised their similarities as populist leaders who rose to victory by promising to crack down on immigration. Mr. Trump praised Mr. Conte’s similarly hard-line stance to tightening his country’s borders, saying at one point that their views on immigration had been a significant factor in both of their election victories.

“We are outsiders to politics, can you believe it?” the president asked Mr. Conte, another leader elected to office amid the anti-establishment waves sweeping through Western governments.

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On NATO/G7 Summits

At one point, Mr. Conte was asked about Mr. Trump’s behavior at the NATO summit meeting, where the president this month seemed to attack his closest Western allies and strike a conciliatory stance with Russia.

“He’s a great negotiator,” Mr. Conte added.

Conte heaped praise on Trump for providing “positions and stances which are expressed with clarity,” proclaimed Italy as Washington’s new “privileged interlocutor” in Europe, and said he was personally prepared to spread the gospel of Trump, particularly on the issue of NATO spending.

As Mr. Trump smiled and listened, the prime minister praised him as someone who brought “fruitful exchanges” to the table with his allies.

On relations with Russia

Even before Monday’s meeting it was clear that Donald Trump and his fellow populist Giuseppe Conte had much in common.

Now they have even more to bond them after Prime Minister Conte said he was “open to dialogue with Russia”.

Both however have ruled out lifting economic sanctions on Moscow, imposed after its annexation of Crimea. (Euronews)

On Trade

The United States, as you know, have a large trade deficit, even with Italy, about a billion dollars, so we have to put things right”, Trump still emphasized that he had to “soon fill the deficit” with our country. But Italy has obtained the guarantee that the US tariffs will not touch the interests of Italian companies, in particular the strategic sector for agribusiness. (Tgcom)

Italy’s recently named prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, called for a quick start to bilateral trade talks between the European Union and the United States that the two sides agreed last week to begin. “I believe that this understanding is fundamental and we have to work on it immediately, bringing our efforts to make sure European, American, Italian citizens receive the benefit of a more equitable trade relationship which is completely reciprocal,” Conte said Monday via a translator during a White House press conference with President Donald Trump. (Politico)

On Immigration

U.S. President Donald Trump praised Italy’s increasingly hard-line approach to immigration on Monday, at the start of a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte at the White House. “He has taken a very firm stance on the border, a stance that few countries have taken. And frankly he is doing the right thing in my opinion”, said Trump. (Reuters)

On US Budget / Migration

Unnerving fellow Republicans, President Donald Trump declared Monday he would have “no problem” shutting down the federal government this fall if Congress won’t come up with more money for border security.

Trump’s threat, his second in two days, put him further at odds with his own party in Congress, where many Republicans are facing tough re-election fights this November. A shutdown when government funding expires at the end of September, just weeks before the midterm elections, would be the second under unified Republican control of Washington, following a weekend stoppage in January.

Trump has made no secret of his belief that his hard-line immigration policies boosted him to the Oval Office, and he launched an aggressive push for additional border security measures early this year. They include $25 billion toward construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, but he acknowledged on Monday his demands are a starting point.

“I’ll always leave room for negotiation,” he said. (AP)

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Analysis

“Giuseppe Conte never campaigned for office or ran in Italy’s election, but that didn’t stop U.S. President Donald Trump from congratulating him on his “tremendous victory.” Trump’s repeated references to Conte’s victory were just a small part of a strange news conference at the White House on Monday, in which the American president seemed to enjoy the rare opportunity to appear alongside a world leader with even less diplomatic experience than him.” (Politico)

In contrast to other European leaders — including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte — who have used their press conferences with Trump to highlight policy disagreements, Conte cheered along as Trump claimed major triumphs, from the G7 in Quebec, to a trip to NATO headquarters to a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

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