MILAN — U.S. President Barack Obama says in an interview with an Italian newspaper that he has developed a "very strong relationship" with Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi.
In an interview published Wednesday in Corriere della Sera, Obama called Berlusconi "a great friend of the United States, and of mine." Obama said that the two leaders always joke when they get together but also get serious work done.
He also called Italian President Giorgio Napolitano a "very gracious person" whose view of Europe coincides with Obama's.
Obama also praised Italy for it contribution to the mission in Afghanistan, where it has some 3,000 troops, and emphasized the important role Turkey plays in Europe.