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How Biden and Meloni Cooperate on Ukraine and Gaza: A Glimpse into Their White House Meeting

US President Joe Biden hosted Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni at the White House on Friday (March 1). Currently, all parties are facing the challenge of how to deal with the fierce war in Gaza and maintain support for Ukraine against the Russian invasion.

“We’re going to talk about the Middle East and the tragic and shocking events that happened yesterday in North Gaza, trying to get humanitarian aid there,” Biden told the media ahead of his meeting with Meloni, referring to Israel. The army reportedly opened fire on a group of Palestinians fighting to receive food from an aid convoy in Gaza City, killing more than 100 people.

Biden took a rare rebuke of Israel, calling the loss of life “heartbreaking.”

“People are so desperate—innocent people trapped in horrific wars, unable to feed their families, and you see the response when they try to get relief,” he said.

He vowed that the United States “will go the extra mile” and declared that it will join other countries in airdropping aid, and he mistakenly referred to Gaza as “Ukraine.”

Meloni called the “humanitarian crisis” in the Middle East her “number one priority.” Biden said he was considering other relief delivery channels, including establishing a maritime corridor to deliver more aid.

“This idea is still in its infancy. A lot of work has to be done,” National Security Communications Adviser John Kirby told the media at a White House press briefing on Friday about the idea of ​​potentially sending aid through Cyprus. explain. The Cyprus government came up with the idea in collaboration with partners from the European Union and the Middle East.

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Bryant added that the airdrops could begin “in the next few days.” Countries including Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and France began airdropping aid this week as Gazans faced the threat of starvation.

This meeting is the second face-to-face meeting between Biden and Meloni in seven months. The two men’s talks also focused on Italy’s rotating presidency of the G7. Meloni will lead an agenda consistent with Biden’s defense of the international system and multilateralism. For both leaders, support for Ukraine has been central to the effort, and while their ideologies are starkly different, several areas of agreement include support for Ukraine.

To achieve this agenda, Meloni said she wanted to challenge the “West versus the rest of the world” narrative and highlight G7 dialogue with the global South as key to finding solutions for Ukraine.

Meloni’s far-right Brothers of Italy party takes power in October 2022. Although Biden and his Western allies had concerns at first, the prime minister has proven that Italy remains committed to supporting Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky. Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s anti-Russian war.

Last week, Meloni visited Kyiv, where he also hosted the first video conference of G7 leaders since Italy took over the presidency. She signed an agreement to provide continued military and technical assistance to Kyiv until the end of the year.

Meloni also played a key role in persuading another far-right leader, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, to drop his opposition to $54 billion in EU aid for Ukraine at an emergency EU summit in early February. plan.

However, both Biden and Meloni are facing headwinds at home when it comes to Ukraine. In the United States, Republicans in the House of Representatives refused to be accommodating when dealing with Biden, blocking the passage of a foreign aid package approved by the Senate. The bill includes US$60 billion in aid to Ukraine and US$35 billion in aid to Israel and Taiwan.

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In Italy, military aid to Ukraine is unpopular with voters. There are tit-for-tat views within Meloni’s ruling coalition on the Ukraine issue and Italy’s relations with Russia. Some members are pushing for an early resolution of the conflict.

Both Biden and Meloni realize that the longer the war in Ukraine drags on, the harder it will be to withstand pressure from domestic groups and voters to end it. However, the two leaders also realize that a Russian victory in Ukraine could mean the end of the European security system as we know it, said Dario Cristiani, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

He told the media: “Italy will work to promote greater cohesion and strengthen military and financial support in the context of the G7, while also trying to find ways to strengthen defense production in Europe and the transatlantic region to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia. Crucial battle for imperialist aggression.”

The two leaders also discussed ceasefire negotiations between Israel and Hamas. Meloni said, “We need to coordinate our actions to avoid escalation. In this regard, we fully support the United States’ mediation efforts.”

In December, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza with Italy and others Some U.S. allies abstained from the vote.

However, in January this year, Italian parliamentarians joined other EU colleagues in passing a non-binding, symbolic resolution calling for a permanent ceasefire, conditional on the disbandment of the Palestinian armed group Hamas and the release of all hostages held by it.

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Biden and Meloni have also found common ground on other issues, including maintaining stability in the Indo-Pacific and coordinating responses to the challenges and opportunities posed by China. In December last year, Meloni’s government terminated Italy’s participation in China’s “Belt and Road” trade and investment initiative. Washington has always been worried about the Belt and Road Initiative.

The two governments are also focusing on finding frameworks for artificial intelligence and international migration. A few years ago, Meloni advocated a naval blockade to prevent migrants from crossing the Mediterranean and “invading” Europe. She has now changed her stance on the issue. She chaired a summit in Rome in January to boost international investment in Africa, and she has also focused on building strategic partnerships with the continent to curb migration as one of her key priorities during her tenure at the G7. Key themes.

“We must remember that Africa is not a poor continent,” Meloni said, adding that Africa had “for too long been neglected and exploited by a predatory practice.”

President Biden and Prime Minister Meloni plan to meet again this June in Fasano, Italy, where Meloni will host the annual summit of G7 leaders.

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