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Trump hails Italy's migration crackdown

July 30, 2018

Donald Trump has marked Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte's White House visit by praising the Italian government's increasingly hardline approach to migration. Both leaders reaffirmed their ideological similarities.

US President Donald Trump and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte
Image: Reuters/C. Barria

US President Donald Trump stressed America and Italy's similarities as he met with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in Washington on Monday.

The president said that he and his Italian counterpart were "both outsiders to politics" when they began their campaigns, and that their administrations shared similar ideologies, particularly on migration.

Ahead of their meeting in the Oval Office, Trump told Conte that he agreed "very much with what you are doing with respect to migration, and illegal immigration, and even legal immigration."

Those sentiments were echoed by Conte, who described Italy and the US as "almost twin countries," adding that "there are so many things that bring us together."

Conte took office in June after being chosen to the lead the new Italian government by the leaders of the euroskeptic Five Star Movement and the far-right League party. He has since pledged to crackdown on immigration and expand the country's welfare program.

Italy, which has seen more than 650,000 migrants arrive on its shores in the past four years, has shut down several of its ports to humanitarian rescue ships. Conte has also accused the European Union of placing an unfair burden on Italy when it comes to handling asylum seekers.

Italy's anti-EU rhetoric

Trump threatens gov't shutdown

Trump used Monday's press conference with Conte to push his own "zero tolerance" approach to illegal migration, doubling down on his willingness to shut down the government to force through funding for his long-promised wall at the Mexican border.

Standing alongside Conte before reporters, Trump said he "would have no problem doing a shutdown," but also stressed he would always leave room for negotiation and had no "red lines."

Read more: Cards Against Humanity takes on Trump's border wall

The president's remarks echoed his tweet earlier on Monday, in which he threatened to shut down the government "if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall!"

However, the potential notion of a shutdown has been raised fears among Republican allies, who fear it would damage their chances of maintaining control of Congress in the upcoming midterm elections.

Kids still wait for reunion

Trump willing to meet with Iran 'any time'

Trump also zeroed in his attacks on Iran, but also stressed he would have no problem meeting the country's leaders with "no preconditions" and "any time they want."

"If they want to meet, I'll meet any time they want. I'll meet with anybody. I believe in meeting," the president said. However, he called the Iranian leadership a backer of terrorist forces that must never be allowed to possess nuclear weapons.

Read more: EU urges US not to punish European firms over Iran

Trump's comments follow days of saber-rattling between Washington and Tehran, mainly over the US's decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. "Never, ever threaten the united states again or you will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before," Trump warned Iran's Hassan Rouhani in an all-caps tweet last week.

Washington is also in the midst of imposing fresh sanctions on Iran, while also trying to prevent the rest of the world from importing its oil.

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dm/kms (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)