Bush hosts Italian premier for talks

WASHINGTON Bush met over the weekend with finance officials from around the world. "All of us will continue taking responsible, decisive action to restore credit and stability and return to vigorous growth," the president said.

He spoke at a White House welcoming ceremony for Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, a close ally. The two leaders held talks in the Oval Office and Bush was to host Berlusconi at an elegant White House dinner. Berlusconi said history will show that Bush was a great president.

Standing alongside Bush on the South Lawn, Berlusconi spoke optimistically about the economy. He said European countries have taken action "which I hope can be positive in order to prevent a financial crisis" from damaging the economy.

"I am 100 percent sure and confident that we have the means and ways to prevent this from happening, and that the wealth of our citizens, the wealth that our citizens enjoy, will not be affected by this," the Italian leader said.

Berlusconi's limousine rolled up to the White House to a drum roll and a 19-gun salute. A military band played patriotic tunes as the two leaders walked across the damp grass to review troops. The two smiled broadly as members of the Old Guard, in traditional three-cornered hats, marched before them. Bush's greeting of good morning - in Italian - prompted chuckles from both, and Berlusconi threw his arm around Bush in appreciation.

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