Obama congratulates Italy's new prime minister

WASHINGTON (AFP) - President Barack Obama "warmly" congratulated Italy's Prime Minister Enrico Letta, the White House said on Sunday, with the United States looking forward to working with his new government.

"The United States and Italy share an enduring and essential friendship - one built on shared values and common commitment to promote peace, liberty and prosperity both regionally and across the globe, including as Nato allies," the White House said.

Mr Letto, a Christian Democrat, was sworn in at the head of a coalition government in a ceremony marred when an unemployed man opened fire on police officers guarding the presidential palace, wounding two of them.

The White House statement made no mention of the incident, nor did a congratulatory statement by Secretary of State John Kerry.

"The president looks forward to working closely with Prime Minister Letta and President (Giorgio) Napolitano as our two countries jointly seek to promote trade, jobs and growth on both sides of the Atlantic and tackle today's complex security challenges," it said.