President Obama Discusses Historic Meeting With Pope in Rome News Conference

U.S. president and Italy's prime minister take questions in Rome regarding Pope, Ukraine.
3:00 | 03/27/14

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Transcript for President Obama Discusses Historic Meeting With Pope in Rome News Conference
This is a special room. -- historic meeting President Obama welcome to the Vatican by Pope Francis the two talking for nearly an hour. And -- president asking the pontiff to pray for his family. I'm Michelle Franzen in New York with this ABC news digital special report the meeting lasted longer than anyone anticipated. President Obama telling Pope Francis is a great admirer of his work. For more on the historic median and the rest of the president's trip in Europe I want to bring an ABC news chief foreign correspondent Terry Moran from London. -- too powerful world leaders meeting both seemed extremely humble toward each other. What did I have to say to each other. Well first that picture is almost an unimaginable picture bad 1020 years ago -- Third World -- A black American president there is something still revolutionary. In it. And I think they're both very aware of that in their roles as leader of the Roman Catholic Church is president of the United States. Of course they've got tons of major challenges in both places -- -- day to day problems but both men seem to carry themselves. With the consciousness. Of that. Historical aspect. Their role in their stations -- what they've got to talk about. While it didn't America -- the Vatican have a lot to talk about they disagree on a lot of things every American president. Com is to the Vatican. With an agenda of global interest and in the Pope comes to meet the president with an agenda of spiritual interest and sometimes those clash. We know that the Pope raised the issue of religious freedom. The Catholic Church in the United States very concerned about obamacare that was raised and the -- that obamacare. -- might have. On the ability of Catholic hospitals and other institutions to provide health care also raised the Pope did we are told. Abortion and and those issues so close wife issues so close the Catholic Church. And then finally they did discuss the world situation. The Pope can be a leader for peace and there's no question that that was raised as well. And -- the -- also exchanged gifts the president giving him a special chest full of seeds from the White House garden. But Francis gave the president a copy of the joy of the gospel to unique gifts for people who have access to every thing in the world right. -- read everything about what they give the Pope or what -- -- give the president of the United States. Well I am President Obama did give this -- chest and and that's very kind of organic and green thing to do those seeds from the White House garden which has been. Sponsored and promoted by. Michelle Obama but the -- itself is kind of special. It's made and I'm gonna read hear from the pool report from American mother and features. Re claimed would from the basilica of the national shrine of the assumption. Of the virgin Mary right there in Washington DC and that church. Established by archbishop Carroll. A jesuit so also like to -- the Jesuits -- -- -- spiritual meaning in addition to the green meaning of that gift. And then the Pope giving the president of the United States his apostolic. Exhortation something he himself. Wrote and if you get a chance. Read it because it gives you an insight into this man we know him from his preaching is -- -- Iraq. Very simple very humble preacher sometimes -- come. With tremendous theological. Or mystical kinds of ways of expressing themselves. -- France very down to earth and so is that letter which is all about the jewel way. As he puts it of the gospel in the world. And how it is important in the context of those teachings to be close to the poor and that's what he gave the president of the United States. Very down to earth and of course you mention the conversations between the two world leaders. Touching upon though the things that way on -- heavily -- Francis also said that he hopes that quote. In areas of conflict there would be respect for humanitarian and international law. And one place he might have been referring to right is what is happening in in Crimea. In Crimea and Ukraine no question about it Michelle Ukraine is -- country divided a people divided along religious lines in many ways. Those who live in the west. Profess the Ukrainian unity it orthodox church that's -- church which actually recognizes Pope Frances as Pope. -- western leaning church the eastern part of Ukraine Ukrainian orthodox has its own patriarch. And so that that is part of the fault line there and there's no question. That the Pope is getting direct reports from his bishops in Kiev in -- -- and elsewhere in Ukraine. Who are on the ground there and can tell about the situation. At the -- is also undoubtedly firm to Syria. He has prayed. In public and asked for prayers for the people of that. Terrifically war torn land that catastrophic humanitarian situation. There was some talk even that the Pope might try to make some kind of side trip. To Damascus when he visits the Middle East later this year. Almost impossible to imagine that but he has reached out. To the people of Syria where there are also many Christians all of the people of Syria now caught up in in a whirlwind of agony. That the Pope is asking the president to do something about it. And of course -- this is of course part of the president's four day trip here throughout Europe the Netherlands. Yesterday in Brussels of course today -- he spoke -- very strongly. Against Russia's actions throughout the strip do we expect him to do the same today when he speaks for the prime minister of Italy. He will certainly mention the united European. American and and Japanese -- the G-7. Front now against Vladimir Putin and Putin's Russia and what they've done Crimea. He has sought really to rally Europeans. To the cause of standing up for European values. And for the territorial integrity. Of European nations and not as he put it in Brussels yesterday got to go backwards to a time. When countries -- drew borders through force and intimidation. -- very crucial and that Italy very early on. -- does a lot of business with the Russian dependent on on Russian. Industry Russian gas and energy supplies like a lot of European countries early on Italy sent signals that it didn't want to cancel. The G-8 summit that was scheduled in -- that it didn't think that was necessary. And so Italy had to kind of be pulled along by some of the other countries to say no we are going to punish food we are gonna meet with him. In such -- the president undoubtedly will be stiffening some spines there -- in room. -- -- certainly Terry a lot of European nations rely on the they have their investments in Russia. But what does it say to you that the president that the US has to go over -- against. European leaders pep talk. Just a couple of things Michelle first -- says Barack Obama needs to pay attention to Europe for a change this is a president who came in. Rather ostentatiously saying I'm I'm not gonna do all that old stuff from them in -- first and the wars the United States during. And -- this is an and then I'm pivoting towards Asia he said didn't really pay a lot of attention to Europe. Now he needs to it is really -- theater of tremendous. Danger right now and he needs to but it says about the Europeans is something else. Really since the end of World War II which capped thirty years of disaster in this content. Europe is tried to knit itself together through diplomacy. And trade. And peaceful cooperation. So that the European values. Can't imagine what Putin is done. It is just a shock to the system. Well let's talk a little bit about Russian president Vladimir Putin spoke on Russian TV today about Crimea integration -- the Russian Federation. And at one point calling out all dual citizen saying it's a crime to conceal another nationality. It be conveying to different messages here and stories -- the Russians and the other to the world. Well I think that there is there is one message and that is that Russia is separate. Different it's not going to be subservient to the west and his mind. It out offers a different alternative in the world he is said it before. That there's the west which it considers too liberal. Two libertarian. To morally relative it's not religious enough. And Russia he believes can offer a strong conservative. Culturally conservative alternative what -- say it is people is part of that. -- I'm choking off. The civic space freedom is. Freedom for the nation. Liberty is liberty. For the people together don't go to -- flirting with the west don't think you can do here in Moscow what they did in Kenya. It is it's a way of addressing the world from -- point of view with respect. But with the declaration of independence as -- war. Of Russia from Europe from the Atlantic project as -- to call it and the declaration as people get in line. -- -- situation in Ukraine meanwhile still escalating today some Ukrainian forces took over -- Russian base near the border. Does this put the region closer to a full scale ground war. You know there is a tremendous amount of danger in that situation right now as you know US intelligence assessment today. Looking at the disposition of Russian troops on the border. Police said concluded Russia is likely to invade at some point. And there's no question that Ukraine. Has been told again and again by the United States and of the year and other western nations. Be restraint. Don't stir up Russia. B call. At some point the voices in -- and we have to defend ourselves our country's been invaded. Part of our country has been seized. There are agents in our country fomenting. Revolution and unrest in one part of it. And -- our army has got to have some kind of role in this that that is a growing sentiment in Ukraine. And it seems to be reflected in that they seize this base there were no Russian soldiers on the base. But did belong to Russia and they took it today and President Obama yesterday in Brussels saying that the US and EU we're not interested in putting troops on the ground in Ukraine. Does that mean there is nothing in the world can do -- on sanctions to keep food from holding on to Crimea. He -- that is a really tough tough question because Crimea was historically part of Russia. Food and in this lightening way has taken back. Will it ever be part of Ukraine again it's hard to say. But that doesn't mean there's nothing that the United States and allies can't do. To make it costly. For Putin and Russia. And to prevent him from thing he can do it elsewhere and to prevent other actors around the world like China with Taiwan from thinking they can do sections are part of it. And the Russian economy will pay a huge price -- -- already passed in January the Russian economy ministry said the country is gonna grow about 2.5 percent this year. Yesterday they didn't drop that the point 6% and it's heading south in large part because this. Unrest. Getting that said that the United States now is can do is beef up militarily. Ukraine. They can offer. Reforms in the military -- -- -- military technology even weapons. And put military more military might along the border in Poland and in the Baltic States which are NATO allies. So it'll be a combination of self inflicted damage. On Russia. Sanctions which will deepen that damage and some military moves short of of a shooting war ABC news chief foreign correspondent Terry Moran in London thank you for joining us. President Obama is getting ready to speak now at a joint press conference with Italian prime minister KO -- let's listen. And coming to explore in the afternoon as it released -- people who in -- -- the X. Yeah yeah chewing Moreland game you know it's real important that we not concerned how -- the environmental innovation on the Clemson and of course is all part of our government can do to join the outside and not -- has shown that -- let me not yet. And -- it'll be a wonderful opportunity everybody gets anymore is president of the criticism of the weather -- -- -- -- I wish to thank the president of the United States from our except. Today in Brussels came. -- I've -- this he definitely wants out so great talent not in itself. Stats you need -- -- me going on -- -- bat speed up machine guns. The relationship between Palin did it did not -- he's going to be before parliament talent I do think that in Europe we monthly mortgage Philadelphia -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- while there must be the place. Not -- decaf. What about his -- -- politics will give hope that is. -- them -- -- president -- Bradley's quote. Today during army and and it creating news just because it's at this in his an Austrian army and -- but -- grandfather's little help have to fight for your. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Still from the standpoint they -- -- plays commitments and our country. Corn cotton and -- play together with European continent Cassini together with the United States that have -- in particular in the Mediterranean region he led many -- -- -- -- only the Mediterranean rule. You log OK you news of a Beaumont and Austin placed at the relative to -- RC mine and -- None could look at the food service -- -- -- a -- about the money most of them you know maybe it's. Not say they'll the most appropriate translation in other words in -- estimates and almost rumor doing exactly do we know mean that when -- say this he said nothing about testicular youngsters who think that. It triggers anti Arab Spring and so don't need to support he has -- -- -- -- of these municipal court to be the desire for believe him I'm just under six -- and and of the people living in North Africa -- -- -- this -- what I -- when -- say -- -- -- in particular -- I wish to reassure president Ahmet that we want to work together especially in those areas. Exact -- optimal plan him. Italy's president and the impact can be song in the -- -- also say in the Europe should not consider them an attorney. Throwing yet I'm asking for volunteers and it should be seen as the -- -- and out of our political and cultural animals. Action news and a fanatic I also wish to underscore let's -- the -- -- -- the relations between the United States and with the European Union and counseling and easy and I you know are still strong I. Mountains despite -- difficult moment. In connection with the Ukrainian crisis. Imports ST -- that President Obama he lets you separate President Obama Templeton. -- -- -- -- that was at. And it the European nation and -- easy and that in the G-7 meeting and discussed impacted the crisis in Ukraine and we won't -- did. The news updates. Machines they called would be -- me -- -- choose not to uphold -- the decisions made by Russia has gone against international law and that we are trying to convey a message is showing our communities strengthen our great concern and yet aren't great resolve it resolve of the international community. Certainly eventful. Also appreciate the words of president about the G-7 meeting -- office when he reiterated it is the need to look at issue energy efficiency or thirty I think it's immensely during the Italian presidency of the EU she's on it will be able. To work with -- dissemination of results and tenacity and I also hope he does during aren't half as it was. The EUI if you must -- be able to Oklahoma's -- -- -- gun two and got back cases the moviegoers. You from the Asian economic cooperation and also -- NI -- for example announced he did it's about into the net connection with our traditional value Eizenstat. Isn't it the moon that you'd hope is that we have what's in terms boosting employment -- and contributors happy. Doing this also -- through the ice tea sector stumbled school. For all these -- I -- that today's meeting that was indeed important and aren't government. President about not. What a vehicle that I wish to say in two president of hockey equipment south. Kept kind of things out that the -- message yes we can't. If you are feeling the first message yes we use and isn't that -- -- that we all remember and we see this. And being a huge potential selling a -- -- possibilities and opportunities and it is an important messages and positive -- As well because I have to say today in Italy today is that and we know them initially detained simply don't need to ask us to change from the outside and all the structural changes that we're economic reforms that little. It isn't of this column to us the hope that things that candidate and so president Obama's visit just to Italy isn't just a symbolic gesture it is -- -- -- of encouragement to. -- -- -- From our ability you raise his friend and if they -- he did what you think about a ten billion euros of political beacon authorities and Dick foot Leslie -- amendments -- Europe into -- And it isn't sure how much -- equivalent to to have focused as future relations on his the next chapter is going to have to written I think that we can might get together thank you. Form for a regional. Bumper and Eddie Jones thank you need Plymouth food gas engine on the news joining us these students I don't know ZUN these young people in today's Sunday advance for welcoming me Diana. Today Datsyuk and he's so well certain. -- -- -- foreign minister spent some time in The Hague. But you can never get to too much of your Italian fronts and we're able to continue this discussion. Today. -- my day started with the the grade on up meeting his holiness. -- Francis. And like people around the world I've been incredibly moved by his compassion. His message of inclusion. I was grateful to have the -- to speak with him about the responsibilities that we all shared here for the least of these before. The excluded. And I was is extremely moved. By his insights about. The importance. Of -- all having. A moral perspective. On world problems and not simply thinking in terms of our own narrow self interests. Of course it's wonderful to be back in Rome. One of the truly great cities of the world. I should point out though that while this is our first official bilateral meeting priority had a chance to welcome. But -- Ramsey to the White House he -- a few years ago as part of a group of mayors back when he served as. The mayor of Florence. -- -- She's -- you know. And I look forward to the -- to welcome. The prime minister back this time as prime minister. I also one -- -- that I had a wonderful meeting -- -- my good friend the president in the volatile. And I think that Italy is. Is lucky to have such extraordinary statement statesman. To help them god. He of the country through some challenging times. -- Italy in the United States share extraordinary bonds of history and family and culture. Were. Especially grateful and proud for. The Italian Americans who made enormous contributions to our country. Italy is one of our closest allies. Our partnership is one of the strongest links binding Europe and the United States together. And I've made clear throughout this trip that our partnership with Europe is the foundation of America's engagement in the world it's a cornerstone of our security policy so. I appreciate the -- to consult with the prime minister on a wide range of issues. On a more personal level. I want to say that I've just been impressed by the energy. And vision. That materials bringing. To his position. -- There's -- seriousness and ambition of ideas. And I think the spirit in the energy of the Italian people. Has the opportunity to be unleashed -- away. That will be good for Italy but will also be good for Europe and so it's it's one of pharmacies. This new generation. Of leadership are coming to -- four. As the prime minister indicated we focused on the situation in -- -- something I've been talking about over the last three days and -- we continue to. Seat international unity in the face of a violation of international law and Ukraine's. Territorial integrity. The IMF's announcement today that it reached a preliminary agreement with Ukraine on -- loan program is a major step forward. This significant package of support is gonna help -- stabilize its economy. And meet the needs of Ukrainian people. Over the long term because it it provides the prospect for. True growth -- will require some structural reforms but it also means. That. Ukraine can go on on a path that. Countries like Poland have been able to embark on and seen incredible growth. Over the last. Several years. It's also -- -- reinforce democratic reforms. And that should help unlock some 27 billion dollars and international support for Ukraine. So it's a concrete signal a problem -- united -- Ukraine has it makes tough choices. At an incredibly difficult time. And Ukraine's leaders can show considerable courage. And foresight by making the reforms that will help them grow their economy. -- Behind the corruption of the past. And today I wanna call on the United States congress to make sure that the United States does its part. We have an economic existence -- that helps support the Ukrainian people as they move forward. As NATO allies the United States -- we are going to uphold our solemn obligation to the security of our allies. -- G-7 partners our decision to move ahead with our summit in Brussels. Without Russia as an example a signal. Russia's growing isolation. The sanctions -- the United States and the European Union have imposed will continue to grow. If Russia doesn't change course but of course are just very in Brussels we are. Continually hopeful. That. Rush walks through the the door of diplomacy. And works with all of us to try to resolve this issue in a peaceful -- and we will continue to coordinate closely with. Italy and our other European partners throughout this crisis. I thanked the prime minister as well as -- Apollo tunnel for Italy's commitment to NATO. If Italian forces -- served admirable and Afghanistan where Italy is one of our largest contributors of the coalition. In Kosovo where Italians command and air force. I would -- that Italy both commands and contributes a large number peacekeepers to the UN force in Lebanon up. And at the Nuclear Security Summit this week we announced the complete removal of Italy's X -- -- -- enrich uranium sort can be eliminated. And this was critical step in our work to make sure that. Dangerous materials don't fall into the hands of terrorists and it's one more example of Italian leadership. Across the board. We discussed the need to boost economic growth on both sides of the Atlantic so that were creating jobs for people especially young people. And that's why. In addition to the kinds of steps that the prime minister. Has outlines and he plans to pursue internally. We have an opportunity also to move forward -- A trans Atlantic trade and investment partnership. That can actually. Boost growth and investment not just for large but also for small and medium size businesses on both sides of the Atlantic. I commend the president prime mister Ramsey for his efforts to make it easier for towing companies to hire more workers. And to make -- the Italian economy more competitive. And I know that a lot more remains to be done there going to be tough choices but as Italy moves forward and makes the hard decisions the United States will continue to stand with -- Finally we discussed some broader global issues. Italy played a critical role and the NATO air campaign to protect Libyan people three years ago. We're now going to be working together to make sure that they can develop the security forces. That can restore order to Libya and make sure that they have a government that is actually serving the Libyan people. The entire world appreciates the vital role Italy will play in the international effort to destroy. Serious chemical weapons. It's in the Italian port -- chemicals from serious stockpiles will be -- and transferred to US ships. For elimination. And this is another example of how we work together not just for ourselves but for the world. And we are looking forward to. Being back in -- In mob hosting the world's. Or being part of the world exposition. Next year that Italy -- is hosting I'm proud to announce today that the United States will participate in the expo. And together where our partners we're gonna. Put together an outstanding USA pavilion that showcases American innovation to improve agriculture nutrition. And to help the people around the globe. I don't mom exposed gonna engage and educate the world is only Italy can and I I will -- -- very have some volunteers from my staff wanna going. Really make sure that the expo go smoothly. I suspect that. Some restaurants and shopping may somewhere be in the their agenda. So mr. prime minister thank you for your friendship -- your leadership. Confident that together we can build on the progress that we've already made. And I'm even more confident that the bonds between our two nations will continue to grow rooted in the enduring friendship between. Are two people so well -- got. Thank you so much as -- president that. Thank you so much -- the for the shopping and the food is absolutely important for our economy so have. For questions okay. -- was for America. OK do you know -- did you won't matter. Zip channel one news channel one knows -- good afternoon. That prime minister of NC has set a moment ago. That ten. You will be you are committed to creating a new. Europe that was less austerity and more growth less bureaucracy and do we have to be closer to the people. Now is that is there America and American model. To be followed here are you asking the US to support that. Pour this effort by its army to changed modified the European policy is in the economic field and what -- -- -- would you like to see. -- better cooperation in the economic field and also in the defense field which you mentioned yesterday thank -- You bring -- -- -- -- Italy's first acts effort is going to be to change Italy. It really doesn't have alibis any longer Italy mustn't think. That its own problems and its opportunities. Will come from the outside from Europe or the US we have to change ourselves. We are great country and -- are able to change. We have to. And reduce our oppressing bureaucracy we have to every Jews -- And downsize our political class on the cost -- and we have to work on our labor market wouldn't because our international investors have to know that this is a great place for their ideas and their businesses to grow. So this is why -- We say to Italians -- until all our fellow citizens that we shouldn't be looking for an excuse nobody is going to do this from the outside we have to change ourselves from within. And of course if we have a that credibility which is needed to if we believe in ourselves -- Europe is going to have to focus more on growth and -- -- on the bureaucracy. And I think that. This is -- How it should be and I spoke two and allow medical's costs -- On the day of -- about this will be discussing -- -- -- as a -- of presidency so can the US be a model you asked that of course. Over the years. Under the leadership of President Obama. The United States. Has chosen an ambitious course. Say they have very have been rebuilding -- there economy and America and shocked at bats a message that we've received at. We decided to call our measures that jobs. To physicists -- and and -- music in the US more or less -- And this is no way votes. Helping use. I have more credibility have more space smaller -- we have to make sure that our investors want to come so of course the US can be seen as a model. And that rule the important point is that Italy has to do its homework and other words of Italy. Most -- finally. -- Put into practice a structural reforms that we've been waiting for for the past twenty years -- And tell my government and our credibility over the next four years says is going to come from that we want to change ourselves. And clearly we're doing it's in an interconnected global world that we know that -- there. Has to lose lose think a bit more about the future and a bit less about the past stepped. And -- is the friendship and cooperation and partnership with the US their four RKE. And an unreleased crucible beacon forests. -- before talk about the future let me just talk about the recent past because I think that. Europe has taken some important steps and they deserve credit. As recently as a year to have two years ago we were very worried about. -- year old. Spinning out of control. The -- enormous challenges across the board. I think because of strong coordination within the Euro -- Because of some Smart actions -- the European Central Bank the financial. Situation has -- us. I also think that there -- countries that were under enormous market pressure. Barring rates. Were skyrocketing. And because of some tough decisions. You've seen. Those. You the ability of both countries to borrow in the international markets stabilize. All that was necessary and it was important. And it could not have happened had it not been for. A coordinated response among a lot of European leaders we've also seen some movement towards banking union which I think it's helpful. And there are some other multi lateral forms that are taking place. That we having perched. -- now having said that. What is also true is is that Europe's growth is still very slow and its unemployment rate is still very -- And nobody knows that better than prime mister -- that's part of his mission is to reinvigorate the Italian economy. Each country's gonna have. Different. Set of issues that it's gonna have to address because. Each country has both strengths and weaknesses in their economy. And I think that prime mister Ramsey is identified. Some of the structural reforms that Italy needs to engage -- in order for it to be more competitive and more successful. And I'm confident that he's going to be able to move. -- forward in part because Italy is ready to move forward. As far as Europe as a whole. I do think that the old debate about growth -- austerity is a sterile debate I think. You need to have your public finances in order but you also have to grow and -- the more you grow the easier it is to get your public finances in order. There are different capacities within Europe. And I've said before and I will repeat again that those countries that have substantial surpluses have more room to help boost European wide demand. And that in turn will help countries that are still in deficit. That will lift Europe as a whole. And that means that everybody is brought. And so. You know in my conversations with. President Barroso. And van -- yesterday. At the European nearly and I encourage them to continue to identify ways in which countries with surpluses can do more to boost demand. While still being prudent about the public finances. Last -- I guess I would -- -- and in terms of the United States and how we can be helpful. Part of it is us making sure there were. Taking care of our own issues. It's not as if we don't have a lot of work to do ourselves. Yeah we've grown faster than Europe and and I think -- recovered. In part because we took some Smart steps but we also have some fundamental problems. That many advanced nations face and then in fact -- discussed. We're his holiness. -- Francis this morning -- matters and increasing tendency in the world economy. For those. Who. Benefit from globalization and technology to do. Better than ever before those of the top. Those -- the bottom or in the middle. Having more and more problems in part because perhaps their jobs have been rendered obsolete. In part because. It's very difficult to see wages. Increase companies feel as if they can always move if labor makes to greater demand on wage increases -- salary increases. And so. All of us are seeing some structural problems in this new economy. And that means we've got to redouble our efforts to educate our young people. To make sure that we have. The capacity to as -- provide skills to our workers if they lose their jobs they could transition quickly. That. We have a strong. Base line. Social support. For people if they end up transition -- Out of jobs. There were paying more attention opening up opportunity for people -- been locked up particularly young people because as I mentioned to the prime minister. One of the tragedies of high youth unemployment is that. When young people don't have a strong attachment to the labor market -- back and continue for the rest of their careers. And they never fully recoup. What's lost in terms of their potential earnings. And their ability to advance in the labor market and so. We can't afford to have years -- and years. Young people who were drifting working part time. Not able to. Develop. They're the kinds of careers and and and skills -- will allow them to succeed in the future that has to be a priority and I know prime minister -- is focused on. Jim Acosta. -- that. Thank you very much Mr. President -- mr. prime minister of Mr. President. In your meeting with his holiness Pope Francis did -- register any objections with you about contraception coverage mandate. In the Affordable Care Act or your efforts to advance the rights of gays and lesbians in the United States that worry so many Catholics and what -- his concerns and on Russia. With the reports of troops building. On Ukrainian border up by taking the military option off the table are you sending a signal to Vladimir Putin that other parts of Ukraine are his for the taking. And why not send multinational peacekeepers to the Ukrainian border as a deterrent and to you mr. prime minister. The president said that yesterday that to the US would defend any NATO -- are you making that same commitment when it comes from rush. That's lot of questions there's definite. Do you Italian journalist by the -- there's sort of -- part questions. Very very. I don't see about -- -- in journalism you. -- I'm -- I remember this. In terms of the meeting with -- his holiness -- Francis. That we had a what wide ranging discussion I would save it. The largest bulk of the time was. Discussing -- central concerns of this one is the issues. The poor the marginalized. Those without opportunity and growing inequality. And you know those -- -- politicians have. The task. Trying to come up what policies. To address issues. But his holiness has their capacity to open people's eyes and make sure they're seeing that this is an issue. And he's discussed in the past. I think the dangers of of indifference. We're cynicism when it comes through our ability to. Reach out to those. Less fortunate. Or those locked out of opportunity. MM we spent. A lot of time talking about. The challenges of conflict and -- how elusive peace -- around the world. You know there was some specific focus on the Middle East where. His holiness has a deep interest. In the Israeli Palestinian issue but also. What's happening in Syria -- -- in Lebanon and the potential. Persecution of Christians. And I reaffirmed that it is central to US foreign policy. That. We. Protect the interest of religious minorities. Around the world. But we also -- on. Regions like Latin America where there's been tremendous progress in many countries but. There's been less progress and others. I think what the theme that. Stitched. Our conversation together was. A belief that it. In politics. And in life. The quality of empathy of your -- -- good. -- somebody else's shoes. And and to care for someone even if they don't look like you -- Talk like you -- Share. Your philosophy. That that's critical. It's the lack of empathy that makes it very easy for us to. Plunge and -- wars it's the lack of empathy -- allows us to ignore the homeless on the streets. And obviously. Central to. My Christian faith is a belief in. Treating others as as -- and I'd have them treat me. And what's I think. Created so much. Love and excitement four his holiness has been that he seems to live this and shows that George continuously. In terms of domestic issues the two issues that we touched on other -- the fact that I. Invited and urged him to come visit the United States telling him that people would be overjoyed to see him. Was immigration reform. And -- -- areas. As someone who came from Latin America are figures very mindful. The plight of so many immigrants. Who. Are wonderful people working hard. Making contributions many of their children are. US citizens and yet they still live in the shadows. In many cases. Have been deported and are separated families. There are described to him how -- felt that there was still not treat for us to make this right and get a law passed. And he actually did not touch indeed tell -- The affordable care. In my cardinal in my meeting -- it secretary of state. -- -- proponent. We discussed briefly. The issue of making sure that. That conscience. And and religious freedom was observed in the context of applying the law and I explained to him that. Most religious organizations are entirely exempt. Religiously affiliated hospitals -- universities are NGOs. Simply have to attest to that. They have a religious objection in which case they are not required. To provide contraception. Although -- employees -- -- who choose were able to obtain it through the insurance company. And I pledged -- continue to dialogue with the the US. Conference of bishops to make sure that it we can strike the right balance. Making sure that not only were but he S healthcare -- families and and women in particular are able to. -- enjoy the kind of health care coverage that BAC offers but that religious freedom crystals -- There was a third question. Quote they're okay that's right Russia -- remember. -- -- That I've been very clear. And saying that. We are gonna do everything we can to support Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. But I think that it's also important. For us not to promise and then not be able to -- -- there are ways frost and hopefully influence. Russian -- decision making and one of the most important things that we can do on that front. Isn't sure -- the Ukrainian government. Is stable that its finances. Are stable and that elections. Go forward as currently scheduled so that we have a legitimate. Strong. Representative. Inclusive. Government -- economic program that it is implementing and carrying out and all those things are. In place but we're gonna have to put a lot of resources -- -- effort not just the United States for Europe as well. And you know I've been very impressed -- Prime minister it gets -- -- And his current efforts. The decision to go forward with an IMF program. With a lot of resources is gonna require a lot of -- but keep in mind that part of what prompted. The original protests that led to. The previous president leaving was an objection about the same corrupt. Practices. An economy that was completely inefficient that have led to a situation in which Poland's GDP had skyrocketed. And of Ukraine's head. Plummeted when they started off -- the same place just. Several. Years ago. I think the prime minister understands that I think the Ukrainian people understand that. It'll require some tough decisions but little. Prime minister -- also making tough decisions. We've had to make some tough decisions that's. That's the nature of political leadership and and I think that's what the Ukrainian people are seeking is a better future even if it requires some. Short term. Changes to business as usual. The question for me is mostly -- and the -- -- easy yes. Yes because I think didn't -- that. Crisis a crisis in Ukraine that. It's very bad situation. But this a reaction. Of European Union. And United States. Is there reaction we don't -- voice. Not a different ways one voice. If food is a reason nice seeing calf. Did it is statement to other G-7 in nab Brussels. Under the decisions. For the future. Our decision very important to have four Italy and now we got absolutely -- meet today in his direction. And and -- When -- contestants will be -- I am let me confess and I'll probably have more than one question myself sucked Robbie quick President Obama you should you're concerned -- With regard to defense that cuts in NATO countries -- -- of the freedom doesn't come without a cost stepped. But Europe is coming out a very very hard to crisis difficult crisis and we know that we need austerity in many sectors including defense. And in fact it there's a debate ongoing right now in Italy on -- possible. In the reduction in the commissioning F 35 so how can we reconcile the need to. Things to have for the fiscal discipline. And to keep military spending under control. Now Edie used -- -- about to structural reforms the do you think that's the best way to reinvigorate the country. Now it. To the prime minister and did you talk about the -- -- in the marine rifleman during your talks. When it comes to defense spending. All of us have to make sure. That's. Are. Defense forces are. Efficient. Effective. That. For every. Dollar -- there were spending the we're getting the most defense for a morning. And so in the united serious we've reduced our. Defense spending. As we've brought. Two wars to a close. There's a natural transition. The kinds of spending increases that we've seen were unsustainable. And I recognize -- In Europe and I discussed this with both the prime mister -- -- were also present -- tunnel there -- opportunities for. Greater efficiencies not only within a country's. Own defenses but also by collaborating. Between European countries so that. You don't have too much duplication. And excess capacity. And in fact. The Secretary General -- and has repeatedly. Put forward plans for building NATO defense capacity. In ways that reduce duplication and ensure that we are getting the most for our money. But. Having said that. There is a certain -- -- -- Commitment. That countries have to make if they're serious about. NATO and the defense alliance. And the odd I've been very realistic I think what my European partners we the United States obviously have the largest military in the world we recognize we have. Some extraordinary and responsibilities we don't expect. Every country to duplicate it exactly what we do we have responsibilities in the middle East River responsibilities and Asia. Latin America. We welcome those responsibilities and we understand. That. You know that is a particular role that we play. What were also hope it partnership in NATO. And if we can't have a situation in which the United States is consistently spending. Over 3% of our GDP on defense. Much of that focused on Europe. Potentially. More if we end up having ongoing crises. Within Europe. And Europe is spending -- -- 1%. The gap becomes too large others -- small country's most obese having a lot less capacity -- us. By proportionally through their GDP. We need to make sure that everybody is doing their fair share. That's not just for our benefit it's also. Because Europe's gonna have its own unique defense -- Prime mister Ramsey spoke about the Mediterranean. -- conceivably. It Italy's gonna develop more and more specialized. Capacity. In addressing. Particular challenges and North Africa or. In other parts of the Mediterranean. Well that's gonna require some resources in order to do that so this is not -- gonna have have to happen overnight but there has to be a trajectory that recognizes. The the need for. For. Everybody pitching and because. Your wish as I said yesterday we cannot take our freedom program. -- -- down wall on lap dog -- Beach and that the yes we did speak about -- A two rifleman who are being illegally detained in India and I -- to the US and the US government. For the support terror directed they've given us in this and phase of the international discussion and -- -- President Obama. -- to be able to count on further support. And that rule we want the issue to be dealt with -- and ever more international levels. But I need to be honest with you and therefore I need to say something about to the questions that you addressed to President Obama but also to the Italian government in other words. -- agreed I didn't know what president Obama's means when he says that freedom has cannot come free of charge of and when we cannot. Come playing -- That there is pain and suffering in the world unless so we -- -- Two a deal with these problems through an alliance based on freedom Murton and did democracy and and common and shared values we'd -- to shoulder responsibilities. And I think that Italy always -- has done its share over the years -- we know where our strengths are what the numbers are but I think we've always and then highly -- devoted and a deeply committed and I thank President Obama for having yet recognized yet again. The as strong partnership between our countries I mean when the Italians have been asked to shoulder responsibilities they've always tried to do it with the utmost commitment to X and honor and I think that over the easy isn't coming years we're going to have to insist. On the concepts -- that was just illustrated by the president I -- we have to become specialized especially in certain areas that we cannot -- Keep saying that the EU has a role to play and then -- And say well the US is there and they're always going to come come to support -- in the and that's not right is not fair where -- -- have to work together I agree with President Obama. Now the issues. When the president said quite rightly pretending to efficiencies. Six and -- making our system more efficient. Our Republican administration we have to reduce costs there and in the defense sector and in that it's there for everyone to see. We wish to continue cooperating. And collaborating with our partners and do we wolves are far. And keep their checking our budget sent to make sure that we have the resources says to intervene that all over the world and at the same time we have to avoid a -- any waste and we know that in some sectors -- -- has been waste. -- our -- You get the last word. Thank you Mr. President the prime minister. Atlanta. -- us here so your. -- question your meeting with the Pope today. Do you think some of this -- that he referenced on social issues would stand in the way of the UN Pope Francis. Collaborating are forming a strategic alliance to tackle. Incoming equality. And then on I'm rush say you've said that their costs. -- further sanctions on the global that would affect the global economy. How do US -- US companies with interests in Russia and Americans. As a whole feel those costs and mr. prime minister. Mr. President President Obama on this trip is said that Europeans need to step up when it comes -- confronting. Russia and also supporting Ukraine that given the fragile. Recovery here in Italy. Can Italy really step up -- does -- need to step back. And are you concerned that congress' failure. To approve additional IMF reforms would prevent the US from stepping up enough. Thank you. First of all I just want to make clear. Maybe it wasn't clear from -- Answer to Jim that. We actually been talk a whole lot about schools social skills soups in my conversations -- In -- in fact. That really was not a topic of conversation. I think. And soreness and the Vatican have been clear about their position on. A range of issues some of them. I differ with the most are hardly agree with. And it. -- I don't think that. Is holding us envisions. Entering into a partnership or coalition -- any political figure. On any issue is his job is a little more elevated were. We're down on the ground to dealing would be often profane and he's. Dealing with the higher powers. -- I do think that there is. A potential. Convergence. Between. What policy makers need to be thinking about and what he's talking about. I think he's shining a spotlight on an area that's going to be up increasing concern and that is. Reduced opportunities. For more and more people particularly young people. Who by the way have more more access to seeing what's out there and what's possible. Because rare access to the Internet -- that they have access to. Other media and they see. The inequality and they see. Themselves being locked out in ways that weren't true before and that's true internationally not just within countries. And so for him to say. That we need to think about this and we need to focus on this we need to come up with policies that. Provide a good education for every child and good nutrition for every child and decent shelter and opportunity and jobs. He's not gonna go in the details of it but he reminds us of what. -- moral and ethical obligations -- it happens also to be good it. Economics. And good national security policy. Countries are more stable. They're gonna grow faster when her body has -- chance. -- just -- if you have a chance. So. So he's. He used his. Hopefully creating an environment which. Those of us who care about this. Are able to talk about it. More effectively. And and we are since many ways following. Not just his -- but. The teachings of Jesus Christ. And other religions that. Cared deeply about the least of these. With respect to Russia. What was your question gets asked me too many questions -- care -- -- US companies. Well there -- you -- This probably convergence -- it. The question rest premise runs it. We have not yet. Taken steps that would target entire sectors. The Russian economy like finance or. Military sales or. Energy. But what we are doing in consultation with our allies. Is to work through each of those sectors and look at what kinds. Sanctions potentially could have a powerful impact. None of them to have a powerful impact on Russia. Are gonna. Have zeroing impact on us. Because. -- Russian news part of the world economy. This part of the reason -- suggestion there that we're not looking -- A possible return to the Cold War. The economies -- change the politics have changed. Russia is not leading an ideological bloc that supposed to the world economy. Gas promise. Listed on. World. Markets. And. You know everybody owns a piece every fact. So. There will be some impact. Hopefully. We can design. Sanctions. That. Minimize the impact on US companies or Italian companies and maximize -- impact on. The narrow -- of interest in Russia that help drive. The decisions but -- -- But. Those are highly technical. That's the work that's being done right now even better. Hopefully we don't have to use them because Russia decides that. They should take the wiser course. And except the offer of the international community and the Ukrainian government. To try to resolve this. In -- peaceful and lawful way. We issue we reaffirm our commitment very clear -- We stay strong and very detailed -- that we don't podcasts and so. Do reason there are values in our county. The first value is not the money the first Sebelius is the ideal of democracy and freedom. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- But let me say something in Italian this is a concept. That I want to. Italians to understand the duties. These is that must I think. -- economy any -- known enemies sending nickel and the Italian economy. Is not to. In any condition. To be in the crisis and to therefore not be able to deal with the crisis in Ukraine and this is an important. Concept and I wanted to be crystal clear. For -- Italian journalist friends we Karen. These there we can in the face up to a possible energy crisis we have the resource -- with which to do that and we've always got to remember. That we may have high public debt but we also have a private savings which is set and four times so. Right public debt debt debt and until we have. A primary surplus we've had -- sick and -- over the years since. And had a constant level and our economic growth the statistics don't make -- at the Cinderella of Europe and international institutions that so we have to. London. It's. -- -- this thinking and it isn't only a question of making these economic and financial calculations. When you know during the Second World War our American friends came to fight in this country they didn't do dictator -- for economic reasons and and -- when I was the mayor of Florence. -- and went every year to -- as cemetery. Which. It is one of the and most impressive that places because of the silence the US cemetery there there are so many families who've lost at. -- a young American soldiers and they lost their lives to defend the values -- And freedom and our country a country that perhaps they'd never even visited. Now I don't think about to question of economic calculation of cost juicy and therefore I would ask our friends. And -- -- and pressed to realize that. The data. That we are working with in the Ukraine. Shouldn't crisis and then the crisis with Russia. And took only based on economic considerations. And this is why. The relations. And our friendship with -- at the United States of America. Have. Trade implications. Says and I think that during the European semester of presidency we have to come to an agreement hopefully -- manage to do list. And maybe it'll come -- 2015 if we don't manage to do -- during the Italian presidency. So I was saying we come to an agreement on their trade agreement with the United States. But what I'm trying to say and and this is lying. I wish to thank President Obama. Is that there shared values. And they're just a moment President Obama will be and making a private visited some of the most beautiful places it in Rome extraordinary places those beautiful and extraordinary places and Rome are. Well if they had been created today. They would've been. As some bureaucrats are saying now we're spending too much money we're not to creating the right things those are places of beauty UC have a huge impact of huge importance -- those are the places that -- Don't make our country and economic superpower but a cultural superpower so with the same kind of commitment with which we have defend our past we wish to -- to our future together with our allies so I think we have to be a bit older but more enthusiastic. And if you don't mind my saying this we need to be a bit more ambitious because I think that to. Today Italy begins to it needs to start dreaming bigger than it has top ten thank you. And you've been watching a joint press conference from the world. US president Barack Obama as well as Italian prime minister Mateo. -- You can keep up with the story in real time by downloading the ABC news happens starring in this story for exclusive updates on ago. For now I'm Michelle Franzen in New York with an ABC news digital special report.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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