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.