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SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good morning.

FOREIGN MINISTER DI MAIO:  Good morning.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:   It is my pleasure to be able to welcome Foreign Minister Di Maio here to the State Department, to the United States.  Luigi, you are the first foreign minister that I have the honor and pleasure of receiving, the first foreign visitor that we’ve had in this administration, and I think that couldn’t be more fitting.

We are working in so many ways on so many different levels, the United States and Italy, to strengthen the prospects for our people across many, many different issues.  We have a lot to discuss today.  But it’s particularly fitting because this is the 160th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and Italy.

We have a wonderful, powerful history between us already, but the foreign minister and I look very much forward to talking about the partnership we have going forward in ways that will advance the well-being of people in Italy and the United States and around the world.

We’ll be talking about a lot of things on our security agenda, including Ukraine, Afghanistan, Libya.  I know we’ll be talking about many of the common challenges that we face in terms of dealing with the pandemic, climate change, and other issues.  But mostly this is an opportunity to note this historic anniversary, but especially to reaffirm our commitment to working together going forward.  Democracy and human rights is something else that has kept us together for many years.  And going forward, Italy’s voice, Italy’s leadership is critical on these issues as well.  So Luigi, it’s wonderful to have you.  Welcome.

FOREIGN MINISTER DI MAIO:  Thank you, Tony.  Thank you for your presence and thank you for the invitation here.  It’s an honor for me to be here.  It’s an honor for me to be here as the first country after the new administration was born, new administration Biden.

And thank you very much for your fully commitment about our common challenges we have in view of the G20, of the G7, the COP26, common challenges we face together.  At the same time, we have on the bilateral side a lot of opportunities to strengthen our relations.

But first of all, thank you very much because I am here, and it’s an honor to celebrate our 160th anniversary of diplomatic relations between us and of our friendship, often between our countries, but if I may, between us.

It’s another opportunity to strengthen our collaboration and to send clear messages to all the world about our common values, about the importance of democracy, and about common challenges as the climate change and environment in general that we have to create in our countries, in our economic alliance, and about the alliance between European Union and the United States.

So thank you very much to you, to your government, to your administration.  And thank you very much for your friendship, from all European Union and all Italian citizens.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:   Thank you, my friend.  Thank you very much.

FOREIGN MINISTER DI MAIO:  Thank you.

U.S. Department of State

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