“You have been a good friend and a great ally,” said Joe Biden, seated next to Mario Draghi in the Oval Office, in the presence of reporters.

Vladimir “Putin thought he could divide us. But we all redoubled our efforts,” added the American president in front of the cameras, before the actual meeting between the two leaders began.

The head of the Italian government considered that the invasion of Ukraine by Russia had “strengthened” the links between the United States and Italy, and more broadly between the United States and Europe.

Mario Draghi felt it was time to “reflect” on “the possibility of establishing a ceasefire and starting credible negotiations”.

Asked about it later, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the US administration was supportive of any diplomatic effort, but “we don’t see any signs from the Russians that they would be ready or willing to engage in discussions”.

Mario Draghi has also predicted “drastic changes” for the European Union, which according to him will have to tighten its ties.

“A strong European Union is in the interest of the United States”, said Joe Biden, even if it represents a “competition”.

Despite Italy’s dependence on Russian gas and its traditionally friendly relations with Moscow, Mario Draghi’s government has been a strong supporter of sanctions against Russia.

Like its Western allies, Rome has delivered arms to Ukraine, even though there is growing unease about this within the broad government coalition supporting Draghi, which ranges from the far right to the left.

The former head of the Italian central bank has also pledged to support all European sanctions against the Russian energy sector despite the risks this poses to Italy, 40% of whose natural gas imports currently come from Russia.

This meeting at the White House comes ahead of important G7 and NATO summits next month in Europe.

Mario Draghi maintains particularly close ties with the United States, where he studied and worked for the World Bank and the private bank Goldman Sachs.

During his stay in Washington, Mr. Draghi will receive on Wednesday from the hands of Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen a prize awarded by the think tank Atlantic Council.



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