03:44 GMT +311 December 2019
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    Prime Minister of Italy Giuseppe Conte at the NATO summit of heads of state and government, Brussels

    Italian PM Calls Trump's Idea of Russia's Return to G7 'Reasonable'

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    The US and Italy’s new government see eye to eye on the need to mend ties with Russia

    President Donald Trump’s position concerning a more fair distribution of defense outlays between NATO countries and on Russia’s possible return to the G7 is absolutely reasonable,” Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said during a joint news conference with Trump at the White House.

    "Personally, I share this position. Frankly speaking, [President Trump] outlined the need to restore balance in [NATO] defense spending which has traditionally been very disproportionate, and this is an absolutely reasonable position,” Conte said.

    He added that he would support this agenda and will try to get it across to other NATO members.

    Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and G7 leaders hold meeting in Charlevoix
    © REUTERS / Adam Scotti/Prime Minister's Office/Handout via REUTERS
    Conte also underscored his government’s desire for a dialogue with Russia.

    “Italy also believes that a dialogue between the US and Russia has a fundamental significance for efforts to ensure global stability and security,” Conte stated, stressing the need to make sure that sanctions imposed on Russia have no impact on civil society and the performance of small and medium-sized businesses in Russia.

    He also mentioned the “intensive economic relations Italy has traditionally had with Russia.”

    While the Italian prime minister believes that the anti-Russian sanctions of the past few years should not be allowed to last forever, he feels they can’t be lifted overnight.

    Just like Donald Trump, Giuseppe Conte has advocated closer cooperation with Russia, despite regular criticism from liberal politicians and media.

    After the G7 summit in June, Conte called for the resumption of the G8 format with Russia’s participation, which he said would be beneficial to all.
    Russia joined the G8 in 1998.

    READ MORE: Russia in G8 Redux Would Give Trump More Leverage — US Congressman

    In March 2014, in the wake of the crisis in Ukraine, the United States and other members of the group decided to return to the G7 format.

    During the recent NATO summit in Brussels, President Trump told NATO leaders that they should increase their defense spending to four percent of their countries’ economic output, double the alliance’s current goal of two percent.

    Right now, only eight NATO members spend more than two percent of their GDP on defense while the US defense outlays account for 3.8 percent.


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