ROME (AFP) — US President Barack Obama said Wednesday it was important to pursue dialogue with Iran and North Korea to dissuade them from acquiring nuclear weapons as he flew into Italy for a three-day G8 summit.
Speaking after talks with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, Obama said they had agreed that "it's very important for the world community to speak to countries like Iran and North Korea and encourage them to take a path that does not result in a nuclear arms race in places like the Middle East."
Obama was accompanied to the Quirinale presidential palace in Rome by his wife Michelle, who wore a sleeveless canary yellow dress.
The US president later headed to the Group of Eight summit in the earthquake-shattered town of L'Aquila by helicopter.
Obama arrived in Italy directly from a visit to Moscow -- his first since taking office in January -- to mend ties with Russian leaders.
He told reporters after meeting Napolitano that he would visit areas damaged by the earthquake that struck on April 6, killed nearly 300 people and left 70,000 homeless.
"Obviously our hearts were broken by the death and destruction that took place after the earthquake, and I am very pleased that the United States, like many other countries, will be contributing to help the rebuilding process."
Obama said he and his Italian counterpart had discussed "raising standards on financial institutions to ensure that a crisis like the one that's taking place will never happen again."
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