Italy’s populist PM arrives in the US for talks with Trump as transatlantic tensions simmer

Italy’s populist PM arrives in the US for talks with Trump as transatlantic tensions simmer

Today, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will visit with US President Donald Trump in Washington. Mr Conte, a law professor,

FILE PHOTO: NATO Alliance Summit in Brussels

Photo: Reuters/Darrin Zammit Lupi

Today, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will visit with US President Donald Trump in Washington.

Mr Conte, a law professor, leads Italy’s populist, eurosceptic coalition government which has come under fire for its hardline approach towards migrants arriving by sea. As Mr Trump fields criticism for his EU aluminium and steel tariffs and anti-NATO rhetoric, he has commended Italy for adopting an “Italy First” policy similar to his own isolationist stance on international affairs. The two are the only members of the G7 welcoming Russia’s reintegration, widening the divide between Western allies’ stance towards Moscow following the 2014 invasion of Crimea.

Solidifying Italian-American relations along these points could bring concern to EU states trying to combat Trump’s positions on trade and Russia. However, do not expect Italy to submit totally to US as a pro-American puppet in Europe. Conte will likely disagree with Trump on increasing Italian military spending and will hold firm on protecting high-quality Italian exports, a part of European trade law that Trump has labelled as unfair. Italy will ultimately stay true to its own interests in maintaining cooperation with the EU, even at the expense of warmer ties with the US.

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