The Italian right-wing leader said Rome wants to be Washington’s closest partner, while on a trip to the US capital to meet senior officials from Donald Trump’s administration. Mr Salvini, Italy’s deputy prime minister, met with, Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, as part of a series of meetings, which could also include Mr Trump himself. After meeting Mr Pompeo, the Italian said: “At a moment when European Union institutions are fragile and changing significantly, Italy wants to be the most solid, effective, coherent and credible partner for the US.”
The US State Department said Mr Salvini and Mr Pompeo discussed “confronting regional security risks from Russia and Iran, the threat posed by China’s predatory investments in key infrastructure and technology in Italy and Europe, and the need for strengthened US-Italy defence cooperation”.
Mr Salvini has attempted to forge close ties with the Trump administration ever since the US President launched his election campaign.
The Italian deputy prime minister has claimed other EU countries have “chosen different paths” and Rome wanted to return to being “the most important partner in continental Europe for the biggest western democracy”.
Arriving in Washington, he told reporters: “And not only for economic and commercial interests.
“But also due to our common vision of the world, of values, of work, family and rights.”
When asked about the common principles shared with Mr Trump’s administration, Mr Salvini responded: “It would be too easy to say, ‘Controlled immigration and the fight against Islamic terrorism’.
“Therefore I would say the themes of fiscal reform, taxes, defence and the protection of the national economy. The economic results in the US are proving Trump right.”
Mr Salvini will also meet Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, to work on flat tax policies predicted by the Italian’s right-wing League party.
His Washington mission comes amid tensions in Rome’s relationship with Brussels over Italy’s mounting national debt pile.
Mr Salvini’s League is plotting a takeover of the Rome government after trouncing coalition partners, Five Star Movement, in last month’s European elections.
Lega became Italy’s biggest party, winning 34 percent of the vote in the May ballot, sparking speculation that national elections will be called imminently.
Alfonso Giordano, a politics professor at Rome’s Luiss University, told the Guardian: “It’s obviously that Salvini is preparing to become prime minister and so, like all premiers who go to the US, he is seeking to get support.”