President Barack Obama and President Giorgio Napolitano of Italy address the media at the start of their bilateral meeting in the Oval Office, Feb. 15, 2013.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano joined President Obama today in the Oval Office for a discussion about the deep and abiding friendship between our two countries. President Obama thanked Italy for their contributions to the NATO alliance, and called President Napolitano, whose term ends in May, a visionary leader, "who has helped to guide and steer Europe towards greater unification, but always with a strong transatlantic relationship in mind."
But the primary focus of the conversation was on the world economy and President Obama's plan to pursue a U.S.-European Union free trade agreement, which he discussed in his State of the Union address earlier this week.
President Napolitano expressed enthusiasm for the proposed agreement, saying he believes it will represent "a relevant contribution for promoting a new wave of development of technologic advancement of social justice on both shores of the Atlantic. And I think it can represent even something more. It is to say a new historic stage in relations between Europe and the United States — not only economically, but also from a political and moral point of view."