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Premier Matteo Renzi visited President Barack Obama at the White House Friday and talked about Italy and Europe who are looking to the US for lessons on growth.
Obama, who said the US would back Italian efforts to promote stability in Libya, praised Renzi for putting the economic accent in Europe and at home on reforms as well as flexibility to move beyond austerity, adding that he felt Italian because he loved Italy. The US president praised Renzi's energy and said he was on the right track with his ambitious plans to implement sweeping structural reforms to the economy and political system.
Renzi said that he was "convinced the US's full backing on Libya will bear its most effective fruit over the next few weeks". In the Mediterranean, he said, "its not only a question of security but also of justice and human dignity".
They also talked about Milan Expo world's fair whicj will provide an opportunity to wage a new war on poverty: "I think it's very important to make the Expo a great opportunity for quality of life, lifestyle and to declare war on poverty in a world where billionaires die of obesity and a billion die of hunger", Mr Renzi said.
Obama hailed the efforts Renzi has been making at home and abroad: indeed, the US president said he had been "impressed" by Renzi's "energy and reforms" and said "Matteo's approach is right: to move forward on reforms but with flexibility for demand and investment".
In Europe, Renzi said reforms were needed to move fully from austerity to growth. "I'm confident: the time of austerity alone is over in Europe but to reach this goal national governments must pass reforms. We are committed to making all the reforms promised to our citizens".
Finally, Obama also said he felt in tune with Renzi and also felt Italian: "Sadly I don't have Italian ancestors but I consider myself an Italian because I love everything about Italy," he admitted.