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17 April 2024

Italian PM Monti surprised by Obama's praise


Italy's Prime Minister Mario Monti said on Friday that he had been surprised by the words of praise received for his economic rescue efforts from US political and business leaders.

Speaking at the end of a US tour, Monti told reporters: "I have to say that there were both public and private words of appreciation for Italy's efforts which went far beyond what I would have expected -- especially from President Obama who naturally has a role as an international opinion leader."

But he acknowledged that the markets had not yet given a verdict on his visit when he held talks with President Barack Obama in Washington, and business leaders and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York.

"It is much too early to see whether there will be acts following the words of appreciation," he said. "For the markets, it will take longer because the markets speak through acquisition and sales, investments and disinvestments and not so much through words."

Obama said at the White House on Thursday that he had "great confidence in the prime minister's leadership and his ability to navigate Italy through this difficult time."

Monti said he had discussed international "risk scenarios" with Ban on Friday, including Syria, Libya and Somalia. Italy is a key contributor to UN peacekeeping missions around the world.

"It reminds those of us whose minds are mainly concentrated on economic and financial business that risk is broader and a sometimes even more frightful notion," said Monti, who was named prime minister in November to push through painful austerity measures as Italy battles its debt crisis.