The Biden-Meloni meeting. On Tuesday, the President of the United States met with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia. The hour-long conversation was Mr Biden’s first chance to confer in person with Ms Meloni since she took office in October.
- The US side was quite willing to make that meeting happen. It’s good news for the Italian leader that the controversy in the American media over her alleged fascist sympathies did not compromise the outcome.
Italy’s version. “The conversation focused on the solidity of the Transatlantic Alliance and the excellent cooperation to meet global challenges, from economic growth to common security,” notes the Italian readout.
- “The focus was on continued support for Ukraine, stability in the Mediterranean and Indo-Pacific, and relations with China.”
- Both sides “reaffirmed the deep and enduring ties between our nations and the strong interest in further strengthening the partnership in the many areas of mutual interest.”
The US version. “President Biden met today with Prime Minister Meloni of Italy on the margins of the G20 Summit in Bali to coordinate responses to a range of global challenges, including those posed by the People’s Republic of China, the climate crisis, and Russia’s use of energy as a weapon,” reads the White House note.
- “The two leaders also discussed their commitment to continue providing Ukraine the support it needs to defend itself and to holding Russia accountable for its aggression.”
Read and compare. The Italian press release highlights PM Meloni’s emphasis on the soundness of the transatlantic alliance, even in light of the positions of her allies Matteo Salvini and Silvio Berlusconi on the war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russia – as she did before, a way of neutering their influence.
- From the US side, the White House’s focus on competition with China emerged strongly. That followed President Biden’s bilateral with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Monday.
Coming up: China. Ms Meloni will meet Mr Xi on Wednesday, but don’t expect much warmth. On the eve of Italy’s elections in September, the Italian PM said that she would not renew the Belt and Road Memorandum of Understanding between Rome and Beijing (which was signed in 2019 and is expected to expire in March 2024) and expressed support for Taiwan.
- After that, Chinese officials and State media sought to paint her in a negative light.