- The Washington Times - Friday, July 10, 2009

L’AQUILA, Italy — President Obama’s debut performance at a G-8 summit is playing to rave reviews from his counterparts Friday, with Italian President Silvio Berlusconi telling reporters the American “has done everything absolutely right” on foreign policy so far.

“I was impressed but so were all our colleagues. I can tell you that we are all very favorably impressed with President Obama,” he said.

The praise follows a day after the leaders gathered here for the Group of Eight leading economies summit greeted Mr. Obama with applause when he showed up for their traditional group photo.

Despite the Italian setting and the colorful Mr. Berlusconi hosting this summit, Mr. Obama has been the focus of most of the attention here, and his handshake Thursday with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi continued to draw questions from the press. Mr. Berlusconi fielded several such questions during his wrap-up press conference.

“President Obama impressed us all. Despite the fact that he does not have very considerable political experience prior to his election, he was not, let’s say, involved in political leadership, and yet he impressed us with his keen mind and with his ability to respond rapidly,” Mr. Berlusconi said, according to the official translation of his press conference.

Mr. Berlusconi also talked about having had time to sit with Mr. Obama during a dinner Thursday.

“We exchanged very cordial information. I told him about my private life, he told me about his, and I think we’ve opened up a dialogue that I’m sure will lead us to build a friendship in the future,” the prime minister said.