FW: Pool report #1

From: Joseph Morton [mailto:xxx@email.com]
Sent: Monday, February 8, 2016 1:34 PM
To: Allen, Jessica L. EOP/WHO
Cc: Gabriel, Brian A. Jr. EOP/WHO
Subject: Pool report #1

Pool was brought into the Oval Office at 12:20 p.m.

POTUS and President Sergio Mattarella were seated side by side, with Mattarella to POTUS’ right. The two men seemed relaxed. Translators sat on either side of the pair.

POTUS spoke first. Each quote was followed by translation:

“It is my pleasure to welcome President Mattarella and his delegation to the Oval Office."

“The president has an extraordinarily distinguished career as an academic, as a jurist, as a public servant. He has the honor of being the first Sicilian to become president of Italy.”

“As I mentioned he’s also a constitutional law professor so I felt great affinity for him right away.”

“The bonds between Italy and the United States could not be closer. And this gave us an opportunity not only to reaffirm the friendship between the United States and Italy but also the extraordinary strategic cooperation on a wide range of very challenging issues that face the Trans-Atlantic community.”

“As a close NATO ally and a member of the counter-ISIL campaign, we discussed the situation in Iraq and Syria and I thanked the president for Italy’s strong contribution to the efforts to train and advise police, to participate in the progress that’s being made there and to update him on the progress of the campaign going forward.”

“And that includes the critical role that Italy will play in fortifying Mosul Dam, an issue that is of great importance to the Iraqi people.”

“We discussed the joint efforts of Italy, the United States and other of our partners in helping Libya form a government. That will allow us then to help them build up their security capacity and to push back against efforts by ISIL to gain a foothold in that country.”

“We spent a lot of time discussing the refugee crisis that’s facing Europe and Italy in particular. And I indicated to the president that we view this not just as a European problem but as a global problem, as a problem for the United States, as a strain on the Trans-Atlantic relationship and indicated the ways in which I want to see the United States working in concert with our NATO partners and European Union partners to address the humanitarian crisis and also to make sure that we’re going after some of the human trafficking networks that have been developing and are profiteering off the misery of others.”

“From the work we’re doing together in Afghanistan to the importance of maintaining our unified effort to bring about a peaceful resolution of the situation in Ukraine to the opportunities that present themselves in finalizing a trade agreement through the TTIP process we agreed that joint and common action between the United States and Italy not only serves the interests of both our countries but the broader trans-Atlantic relationship that has underwritten so much peace and prosperity over the last several decades.”

“So Mr. President, welcome. I understand you’ll be traveling to New York and Houston. I’m sure that wherever you go you’ll get the same warm reception because of not only the incredible ties between Italy and America but also because of the extraordinary sacrifices that our peoples together have made to shape a better world.”

Then it was Mattarella’s turn to speak. Remarks here are via the translator:

“I wish to thank President Obama wholeheartedly for the invitation to come to Washington and for the wonderful reception and hospitality that we have received.”

“This is a sign of friendship between Italy and the United States. It is a friendship that dates back 70 years and we have known all these years that we can count on one another.”

“And it is also through the cooperation within the Atlantic alliance that we have been able to overcome over time many demanding challenges and difficulties successfully.”

“And It is through this closeness and friendship and cooperation that exist at present and will continue to exist in the future that we will be helped to overcome the many new challenges that will appear before us and we will be able to defeat in this manner the enemies of peace, freedom and human rights.”

“As President Obama has told you we have agreed on a number of (inaudible) numerous issues and challenges that we are facing not only in terms of actually identifying them but also in determining how we wish to deal with them.”

“On the subject of terrorism, which of course is engendering great violence and death all over the world and then migration. We agree that we need a very balanced approach, a human, humane approach to dealing with this matter. Because we have to consider issues of security and rights of the people that are affected.”

“And the president also mentioned the different theaters where there are crises - Syria, Iraq, Libya for example - and it is through the cooperation based on the Atlantic alliance through the alliance itself that we can hope to bring stability and security to these many different areas. This is I think very important to focus on - cooperation within the Atlantic alliance.”

“We also talked about our Trans-Atlantic economic and trade partnership. And this of course is a very important approach because it will help us to avoid in the future additional new economic and financial crises because they would of course jeopardize the prosperity that has been achieved in the developing world and perhaps ward off or prevent any prosperity from being achieved in developing nations.”

“So these are very demanding challenges indeed and we need to know exactly how to govern them, how to resolve them and I think that it is within the transatlantic framework that we can hope to be successful and of course Italy and the United States are on board together all the time.”

“Thank you very much.”

POTUS then said “Thank you everybody” several times as pool was ushered out. He ignored a few questions from reporters including one asking for “comment about the Italian fellow killed in Egypt.”

After about 15 minutes in the Oval Office, pool left the room at 12:35.

Joseph Morton

Omaha World-Herald

xxx-xxx-xxxx

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