Trump talks immigration, ISIS alongside Italian prime minister
President Donald Trump welcomed Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni to the White House Thursday, recognizing the country as a key trading partner and ally in the fight against terrorism.
Trump, speaking at a joint news conference with Gentiloni after their first in-person meeting, recognized Italy’s military contributions to the fight against ISIS and the war in Afghanistan and said the two countries could partner to address “large-scale migration and international smuggling.”
“Strong borders is a vital component,” Trump said while alongside Gentiloni, whose country has been one of the most affected by the migrant crisis that has roiled Europe.
The visit comes a month before Trump is scheduled to travel to Italy for the first Group of 7 summit of his presidency, where leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies will meet for rounds of powerhouse diplomacy.
Trump and Gentiloni took questions from reporters following a brief Oval Office meeting and bilateral meeting between the two leaders and their respective delegations.
The two leaders also took to their podiums as reports surfaced of an attack that killed one police officer and wounded another in Paris.
Trump expressed “our condolences from our country to the people of France.”
“Again it’s happening, it seems,” Trump said. “It looks like another terrorist attack.”
As of the time of Trump’s comments, French authorities had not concluded whether the attack in Paris was terrorism-related.
Trump’s meeting with the third-largest Eurozone economy included economic and trade discussions as well as security issues.
Italy has been on the front lines of a migrant crisis that has stretched financial resources and wrought political turmoil across the European Union as millions of asylum-seekers and migrants have sought refuge in Europe.
Trump has repeatedly sought to draw connections between the uptick in the flow of refugees in Europe and the spate of terrorist attacks that have taken place in recent years, even when the culprits for those attacks were European-born. And while Europe has sought solutions to accommodate the uptick in refugees, Trump has sought to close the US’ borders to refugees, particularly those from Syria, arguing that they could be a “Trojan horse.”
Italy is also a member of the NATO military alliance and a partner in the US-led anti-ISIS campaign in Iraq and Syria — a fight that Trump has sought to ramp up in his quest to destroy the terrorist group, as he promised on the campaign trail.