January 24, 2018 / 1:42 PM / a year ago

Italy PM says "there's a limit" to leaders defending countries' interests

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni sent a message to U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday that leaders can defend their countries' interests but must respect existing international agreements.

Asked at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, about Trump's imminent visit, Gentiloni said:

"It is totally legitimate, understandable, the desire for political leaders to defend their own citizens, their own companies, their own economy ... I respect that, but obviously there is a limit."

He added, "You can defend and protect your citizens, your workers, your companies, but we live in a framework given by trade agreements, free trade, trade rules, multilateral decisions, and we have to keep this system functioning," Gentiloni said.

Trump will have a full day of meetings in Davos on Thursday and then deliver a keynote address to the forum on Friday before returning to the United States later that day.

Reporting by Isla Binnie

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