Politics

Obama's final state dinner is reserved for Italy's prime minister

President Barack Obama's place card is seen on a table during a preview in advance of the State Dinner in honor of the Official Visit of Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his wife Agnese Landini, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Obama's is reserving his last state dinner for the prime minister of Italy, providing star treatment to a key ally who soon faces a critical leadership test in his home country. The official visit and state dinner for Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Tuesday will be a glitzy affair that features celebrity chef Mario Batali in the kitchen and singer Gwen Stefani performing after the dinner. White House officials describe Obama and Renzi as sharing a great deal of common ideological ground, most notably their belief in the importance of a strongly integrated Europe.

He wants to actually demonstrate the strength of the relationship with Italy as well as to get behind and put wind in the sails of someone he sees as one of the most promising young politicians in Europe.

Charles Kupchan, senior director for European affairs at Obama's National Security Council

Britain's decision to exit the European Union is testing that vision, and a Dec. 4 referendum in Italy on the government's proposed overhaul of the Constitution could derail Renzi's political future if it fails. The White House said Obama strongly supports the economic and political reform efforts that Renzi has undertaken as prime minister, and he wanted to show it.

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State dinner

A state dinner or state lunch is a dinner or banquet paid for by a government and hosted by a head of state in his or her official residence in order to renew and celebrate diplomatic ties between the host country and the country of a foreign head of state or head of government who was issued an invitation.