Heartfelt U.S. – Italy Unity at NIAF Welcoming Reception for Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi Held in the U.S. Capitol


Contact:   Elissa Ruffino (NIAF) 202/939-3106 or elissa@niaf.org

(WASHINGTON, DC – March 2, 2006) The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) welcomed His Excellency Silvio Berlusconi, the prime minister of Italy, at a special congressional reception in the United States Capitol yesterday afternoon. The program was moderated by NIAF Chairman Dr. A. Kenneth Ciongoli. The Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Richard Lugar, Senator Michael Enzi, and Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr., who chairs the Italian American Congressional delegation, also participated in the program.

The NIAF presented to Mr. Berlusconi an American flag, which was flown over the U.S. Capitol buildingin honor of his visit to the nation’s capital. He was visibly touched by the occasion. This reception followed the Prime Minister’s address to a Joint Session of Congress where Mr. Berlusconi, pledging a continuation of the historic close alliance of the U.S. and Italy, was well received and frequently interrupted by standing ovations. “We Americans will never forget your personal courage and Italy’s support of our country in the war on terror,” Ciongoli said.

The NIAF reception was held in the Brumidi Corridor of the Capitol, which had a special symbolic valueas it was painted by Italian immigrant Costantino Brumidi during the nineteenth century. Among the more than 200 people attending included: Senators Hillary Clinton, Rick Santorum, Frank Lautenberg, Patrick Leahy, and Lincoln Chafee, and Representatives John Mica, Patrick Tiberi, Melissa Hart, Tim Holden, and Henry E. Brown Jr. Other guests included the Italian Ambassador to the U.S. Giovanni Castellaneta, the U.S. Ambassador to Italy Ronald P. Spogli, and former U.S. Ambassador to Italy Melvin Sembler. Italian American business executives and community leaders also joined in the welcoming of the Prime Minster including former Members of Congress Frank J. Guarini and Marty Russo, and with Patricia Harrison, the head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The NIAF is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC dedicated to preserving the heritage of an estimated 25 million Americans of Italian descent. Visit our website at:www.niaf.org