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Trudeau thanks Italian PM, for trade help

Canadian Press logoCanadian Press 2017-04-21 Mike Blanchfield

OTTAWA - One day after his visit to the Trump White House, Italy's visiting prime minister told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau their two countries share a common world view in "interesting times."

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni made the remark in Trudeau's Parliament Hill office today, one day after he was praised by President Donald Trump during a visit to Washington.

Italy is to host the G7 leaders' summit next month, which will be part of Trump's entry into the world of multilateral summitry. Trudeau said the upcoming summit and a broad range of international issues would form part of his talks with Gentiloni.

Trump on Thursday praised Italy's contributions to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and its efforts to promote stability in Libya.

Italy has also committed to increase its defence spending to two per cent of gross domestic product, the target Trump wants all NATO members to reach. However Trudeau has said Canada is already doing its fair share.

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But Italy also supports free-trade agreements, something Trump has poured cold water on repeatedly, including this week when he said he was anxious to see some "some very big changes" to the North American Free Trade Agreement.

As he offered congratulations on Canada's 150th birthday, Gentiloni said the two countries share "the same line" on many issues.

Trudeau lauded the "tremendously strong" trade ties between the two countries.

"We are living in interesting times and this common vision, I think, will be helpful for us and for the world," Gentiloni said.

Trudeau thanked him for Italy's support bringing the Canada-EU free trade deal together.

"On a broad range of things, we find ourselves tremendously aligned," Trudeau said, who visited Europe last winter to praise free trade agreements, including the Canada-EU pact.

Trump's arrival on the broader world stage is set to happen in late May.

It will start with the NATO leaders' summit in Brussels, just before the G7 leaders meet in Italy — summits which both Trump and Trudeau are expected to attend.

Trump has roundly criticized many of the world's international institutions, and once called NATO obsolete.

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