Remarks With Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti Before Their Meeting

By:  John Kerry
Date: Feb. 28, 2013
Location: Rome, Italy

PRIME MINISTER MONTI: (Via interpreter) It's a great pleasure to welcome today in Palazzo Chigi the Secretary of State of the United States of America John Kerry. And I would like to seize this opportunity before holding our talks shortly to express my deepest gratitude for his commitment in holding the great international conference on Syria, which took place today at the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

I would like to thank the Secretary of State for expressing his words of confidence on the future of Italy which he said today at the close of the conference at the Foreign Affairs Ministry at the press conference. The political and moral support of a great democracy such as the United States represents an important acknowledgment vis-à-vis a strong democracy, if you allow me to use the words by the Secretary of State Kerry, a strong democracy which no doubt is Italy.

In a short while, we will address, or rather delve into, a number of bilateral issues, namely the joint commitment in the crisis area Syria, Afghanistan, and the Horn of Africa, areas in which Italy is continuing to play its part, both on the military side and on the diplomatic side.

We will also address the state of the global economy, which will represent another opportunity to address the joint support to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Initiative between EU and the U.S. to kick-start substantially the transatlantic economic relations with a view to providing an important stimulus for the growth of our respective economies. And our talk today will be sort of a follow-up of the many talks that I had in this one year and few months with President Barack Obama, opportunities that we had to exchange our views on Italy-U.S. and Italy in the Eurozone. And it is also thanks to the conversations that we've had with President Obama that we have then developed a number of actions within the EU which have helped us to overcome the crisis in the Eurozone. And it is with this spirit of friendship and commitment that I would like to welcome you today.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for the spirito di amicizia. I appreciate that very, very much. It's an honor to be here. And we are so grateful to you and your country and your Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi, who did a terrific job today of hosting this important conference, and we thank you for that.

Mr. Prime Minister, this is obviously a very historic moment in Italy. You've just had elections, democracy at its fullest, and democracy everywhere today is robust and always interesting. But make no mistake, Mr. Prime Minister; we in the United States congratulate Italy on the energy of its elections. And we are very confident that the strength of Italy as a strong country as a transitioning economy and looking towards the future with our transatlantic trade partnership that you've talked about, is going to remain a strong partner not only in the European community but in the -- with the United States. We're confident of that.

It's also an historic day because today is the day that for the first time in 600 years, His Holiness the Pope Benedict has departed the Vatican to fly to Castel Gandolfo and go into retirement. And so I know that President Obama joins me and all Americans in wishing him well in that special moment, and we thank him for his leadership and for his outspokenness on many issues.

Let me also say, Mr. Prime Minister, that President Obama and the American people are deeply grateful to you for your leadership in these last years. You've made difficult choices in a difficult time, and we are very, very grateful to you for your partnership in so many ways -- Afghanistan, Libya, counterterrorism, the economy, the Euro -- all of these are the difficult choices that we in public life face today. And we are very, very grateful to you as a country and as a partner in these endeavors.

So as I thank you for that friendship, I also look forward to our conversation now. And thank you for a very warm welcome here in the palace. I appreciate it.

PRIME MINISTER MONTI: Thank you very much.