Less than a day after he signed legislation that frees America’s coffers and reopens the US government, US President Barack Obama quickly turned to the Syrian crisis.
Following his meeting with Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta Thursday, Obama commended Italian efforts on Syria, and said he hopes Italy can assist in a potential political transition.
“We have been pleased to see not only the UN resolution but also now the concrete efforts to get chemical weapons out of Syria. And Italy has been very supportive of that effort, and we both believe that it's important to build off that success, or at least that good start, to also talk about the humanitarian suffering that the Syrian people are experiencing,” said Obama.
He added, “Italy has been a contributor to the humanitarian efforts there, and we want to partner with them to find ways to not only relieve the suffering but also to implement a political transition that can allow people to return to their homes and end the killing that's been taking place there.”
Letta emphasized the urgency with which the US and Italy must address Syria’s bloody civil war saying, “We have to work together on Syria to apply the resolution as soon as possible. And we want to have Geneva II as soon as possible too.”
Estimates on the death toll of the Syrian crisis vary, but hover around 100,000.
-Obama congratulates Letta on government successes, Letta lauds end to US government shutdown
With the end of the US government shutdown still fresh, Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta commended Obama on the resumption of full government activities, noting its global importance.
“I congratulated President Obama for yesterday's success, is his success, but is also our success because yesterday's decision was very important for the stability in the markets, in the world, in Europe and in Italy, first of all,” said Letta.
Speaking specifically to the consequences for Italy, he said, “We need stability because we have such a big debt, so we need to have low interest rates.”
Turning to Italian developments, Obama praised the recent successes of Letta’s government.
“I want to congratulate him on having won a vote of confidence and passing a budget. I think it's clear that Italy is moving in the right direction in stabilizing its finances and embarking on reforms that will make it more competitive,” Obama said.
Letta noted the importance of the advances, saying, “Austerity without growth -- it's a big problem for us. This is why we passed in Italy a budget, a budget with the budget under control, with the debt decreasing, the deficit is decreasing, public spending decreasing, and the level taxes on families and entrepreneurs decreasing for the first time since many years.”