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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 6, 1998
                        REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                   AND PRIME MINISTER PRODI OF ITALY                   
                           AT ARRIVAL CEREMONY

The South Lawn

10:07 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Prime Minister, Mrs. Prodi, members of the Italian delegation, welcome to the White House and welcome to the United States. Hillary and I are delighted to see you again, and I look forward to our talks today which will deepen our relationship. But first, let me say I was terribly saddened to hear of the torrential rains and mudslides in southern Italy which have resulted in the loss of Italian lives. United States forces from Aviano are now transporting Italian civilians to the scene to assist in rescue efforts.

The history of our partnership is long and special. Every school child knows that Columbus crossed the Atlantic in 1492, soon to be followed by other great Italian explorers -- Amerigo Vespucci, John Cabot, Giovanni da Verrazano. That was only the beginning of a relationship that has now flourished for centuries, bringing us together in new ways generation after generation.

Today Italians once again are expanding the world's horizons. Italy stands at the forefront of a new Europe, leading efforts to promote peace and unity throughout the continent, from economic and monetary union to military cooperation.

In recent months Italy has led efforts to restore civil order in Albania and is seeking to avert a deepening conflict in Kosovo. Italian and American troops patrol alongside one another in Bosnia. And we will continue to work together to build stability throughout southeastern Europe and the Mediterranean. And finally let me say we are deeply grateful for Italy's hospitality toward United States forces working to preserve peace in Europe.

Mr. Prime Minister, under your leadership Italy is building a better future, enterprise is thriving, the rule of law prevails. Today's dreams are being shaped into tomorrow's reality.

Together we are exploring outer space, fighting crime and terrorism, restricting the spread of dangerous weapons, and creating a climate where goods and ideas can be freely exchanged between our countries and around the world. Truly, Italy is setting an example for the new Europe.

This week in Washington and next week at summits in Europe, we will forge even stronger bonds of cooperation to equip our people to succeed in the global economy, to combat international crime and other threats to the security of our citizens, to nurture the health of our planet. A year from now, we look forward to meeting here again when the NATO Alliance celebrates its 50th anniversary and asks to make the Alliance stronger for the next 50 years.

The great seal of the United States contains the words, novus ordo seclorum, a new order of the ages. Those words were written by Vergil in Italy more than 2,000 years ago. But they have fresh meaning today, as a new generation builds a new order of peace and freedom, prosperity and security for the 21st century. Vergil's words apply to your deeds, Mr. Prime Minister, and we are very glad to welcome you to the United States of America. (Applause.)

PRIME MINISTER PRODI: Mr. President, Mrs. Clinton, on behalf of my wife and the entire delegation accompanying me, I thank you for your cordial welcome. This is the second time that I have the pleasure of visiting you in Washington. Almost two years ago, I was here as Chairman of the European Union. And I'm very pleased to be here today as Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Republic.

I came here today to reaffirm the value that Italy attributes to its relationship with the United States. The friendship, the cooperation in the alliance between our two countries go back several long decades. This relationship is based, among other things, on the hospitality given to the Italian immigrants in this land to which they have contributed in building this American nation.

These two facts are now part of history, but history also leaves an even deeper legacy. I believe that the relationship that binds our two countries today, despite each country's unique characteristics, can be called a community of destiny and values. This community is something very specific for me. The United States and Italy, each within the scope of its own tradition, of its own development, and its own specific foreign relations, are two citizens of the next millennium bound by common values.

Our two political systems are inspired by the same principles of freedom and democracy. Our economies are each uniquely dynamic, enabling each of our countries to integrate in ever broader and more complex spheres. Our civil societies have each been shaped by unique pasts, and will both remain free and offer a wealth of opportunities in the future. We each share the same responsibility, which is to face tomorrow's with determination today.

I am convinced that together we can and we must tackled these responsibilities. We have similar perceptions of the issues at stake that we must face together, and of the opportunities before us. We now have the opportunity to prepare plans together and to fine-tune their implementation so that, within the scope and limitations of our respective forces, we can contribute to the best possible future.

Together we must consider the most pressing issues of the day. I have in mind those that are common to both countries and that we can solve by cooperating even more. First I have in mind the regional crisis, but I also have in mind the global issues that our countries must work together on, and not only in the legitimate interests of both countries, but also in the general interest.

I have in mind the interest organizations in which we operate, such as the Atlantic Alliance, the European Union, and the International Financial Institutions. The latter are not static institutions, they are dynamic systems that have been created and modified following specific historical events. One of the tasks before us is precisely to take full advantage of their potential in light of the new needs emerging in the international community.

In this regard, Italy believes that we should continue to operate within the scope of the European Union to make a global system of political, economic, trade, and cultural relations from both sides of the Atlantic possible. The creation of a vast sphere of free trade between the two continents is one of the goals that we must pursue, not only to best utilize our energy and to strengthen as much as possible our political and economic ties, but also as a common contribution to the global trade liberalization.

I believe that there's nothing like working together to strengthen friendships. And I came here for that very reason, Mr. President -- to discuss with you a range of issues and to outline, if possible, their solutions. Having worked directly with you in the past, I am familiar with your ability to tackle problems head on, and I'm certain that our conversations today will be productive.

I have with me the draft of a document which is a plan laying out a partnership and ways to implement solidarity between the United States and Italy. I know that you have a copy of this draft on your desk. I am certain that our common long-term commitments together will continue to improve the quality of our relationship.

It is in this spirit, Mr. President, that I thank you for your very warm and kind welcome. (Applause.)

END 10:25 A.M. EDT