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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
January 26, 2004

Remarks by the Vice President and Prime Minister Berlusconi Before Bilateral Meeting
Villa Madama
Rome, Italy

8:05 P.M. (Local)

PRIME MINISTER BERLUSCONI: Good evening. I'm very happy to welcome here, on behalf of the Italian government, the Italian people, the Vice President of the United States, Mr. Cheney. Vice President Cheney is accompanied in his trip by his wife and his daughter. And he has been invited here over to Europe to intend a very important forum. And the only other stop he made here in Europe is to come here to Rome. Therefore we are very happy and we are very grateful for him to decide to come and visit us, though we're very sorry that the weather, unfortunately, is not enabling them to visit the beauties of this city.

We welcome here Mr. Cheney and we express again our gratitude to the United States for what they've been doing for us, not too long ago, over 50 years. I do know that Vice President Cheney is fully aware of the fact that in meeting the Prime Minister of Italy, he is meeting the Prime Minister of a country which is not only an ally, but also a friend, a loyal friend of the United States, which shares the efforts that this great democracy is doing in order to try and bring democracy and freedom to other countries in the world.

It's going to be -- Italy is going to be an ally, and it is an ally which took on its share of responsibility. It thought it was needed as being the sixth country contributing to the United Nations budget, the third country contributing to the European Union budget, and the fifth and sixth democracy in the world. And the decision was made to be next to the United States in this mission to bring freedom and democracy in a steadfast way, trying to help the United States in order to fight terrorism all over the world! .

To close, I would like to add, and say that we will have now a chance to exchange our views and opinions on the current situation, but I have to add that we are in constant contact with the United States administration, so we do know what our positions are. We fully share the positions and the opinion of the United States, in terms of what is the situation world-wide. And we agree with the fact that it is necessary to speed up the transition to democracy in Iraq, and the Iraqi government has to be the expression of the Iraqi people, and it is necessary to work together to overcome this and other crisis, crisis which are ! difficult to solve. But the only way to achieve that result is to work together.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Prime Minister Berlusconi. I want to thank you for the very warm welcome and gracious hospitality. President Bush and I consider Prime Minister Berlusconi a close friend and a source of wise counsel, and deeply appreciate his willingness to host me here this evening.

I had the opportunity earlier today to visit with President Ciampi, to speak as the guest of President Pera in the Senate and to travel to Nettuno with President Casini to visit the American cemetery at Anzio.

We have many difficult challenges to face as democracies, but we in the United States are deeply grateful for the enormous contribution that Italy and Prime Minister Berlusconi have made to our mutual efforts. We appreciate the contribution of the Italian armed forces and Carabinieri and especially respect the sacrifice that occurred at Nasiriyah in November.

And we look forward to continuing to work very closely together in Iraq and in the war on terror. We believe we're making major progress together, and that the people of Italy and the United States will be safer and more secure in the future because of our mutual undertaking to secure the freedom of the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr. Berlusconi, once again, on behalf of the people of the United States, thank you for all you do, by way of your friendship and support.

END 8:13 P.M. (Local)

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