AP and Reuters

Italy“s Meloni to meet President Biden later this month


Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, U.S. President Joe Biden, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and NATO Secretary-General Jens?Stoltenberg attend a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine council, during a NATO leaders summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, July 12, 2023. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni will this month make her first official visit to the United States since taking office last year, she said on Wednesday.

Meloni has been invited to meet U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House on July 27, Meloni told a press conference on Wednesday at the end of the NATO summit in Vilnius.

Meloni, Italy’s first woman prime minister, came to power last October at the head of a right-wing coalition.

Italian diplomats have said Meloni wanted to see Biden before deciding whether to pull Italy out of China’s Belt and Road (BRI) initiative.

Italy became in 2019 the first and so far only G7 nation to join the hugely ambitious BRI programme, which critics said would enable China to gain get control of sensitive technologies and vital infrastructure.

Italy will have the G7 presidency next year and Meloni said the rebuilding of Ukraine would be a focus for her.

“I see working on the reconstruction of Ukraine also as a way to bet on a future of peace, freedom and Euro-Atlantic prosperity for this nation,” she said.

Meloni said support for Africa would also be discussed in her talks with Biden and another feature of the G7 presidency.

Italy argues that more help for nations such as Tunisia is needed to prevent migrants from making perilous attempts to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

“It’s not true that Africa is a poor continent. Above all it’s a continent that has been exploited,” she said.