President Trump backs Italy's Conte on migration in White House talks

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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.

"I'll always leave room for negotiation", he said. Trump said instead that "The Prime Minister and I agree that the brutal regime in Iran must never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon".

In contrast to recent stormy sessions he has had with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Theresa May, and other European leaders, Trump had a most friendly visit and press conference with the head of government of Europe's fourth largest economy.

Mr Conte and Mr Trump have similar views on immigration - The Italian Prime Minister leads a populist and anti-immigration coalition government, led by Lega and the Five Star movement, who have aim to implement a hard line against allowing migrants across its borders.

Finishing his joint press conference with Mr Conte, Mr Trump vowed to maintain United States sanctions on Russia, but praised his "great" meeting earlier this month with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The two men also share the same skepticism when it comes to free trade: Trump has blasted several worldwide pacts such as NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), while Conte refused to ratify the CETA free trade agreement between the European Union and Canada.

Brussels
Zammit Lupi

Conte, who was making his global debut at the G7, said he agreed with Trump, setting himself apart from his European colleagues.

According to Nick Ottens of the Atlantic Council, Trump "may not find the ally he expects" in Conte. But it followed tensions between the USA and European Union over trade and the transatlantic alliance.

US President Donald Trump traded smiles, handshakes and compliments with Italy's populist leader Giuseppe Conte Monday, as the two rightists presented a united front on everything from Russian Federation to immigration.

The common ground is a rare example of transatlantic cooperation at a time when Trump has strained alliances by imposing tariffs, criticizing the leaders of Germany and Britain, and railing against what he considers freeloading by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies who do not meet targets for defense spending.

The United States wants Italy to maintain its role in Afghanistan, although Italian Defense Minister Elisabetta Trenta has said the country may reduce its troop commitment.

The pair also brushed over differences over Iran, where sanctions have hurt Italian-Iranian commercial relations.

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