India and Italy today agreed to boost cooperation in counter terrorism and cyber security as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met the top Italian leadership and discussed steps to revitalise the bilateral ties.
In her first engagement of the day, Swaraj called on Italian Prime Minister Prof. Giuseppe Conte and their discussions focused on forging bilateral cooperation across sectors and steps to revitalise the bilateral relationship, said a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs.
Both sides agreed to mutually identify new areas of cooperation to boost trade and investment linkages.
It was the first major political exchange between the two countries after Conte assumed charge as the Italian prime minister early this month.
Swaraj “conveyed felicitations of the Government of India to the newly elected Government of Italy and reiterated India’s desire to strengthen bilateral relations with Italy,” the statement said.
She also conveyed the need for India and Italy to continue to work together and coordinate positions in multilateral forums, it added.
The two leaders underlined the need to boost people-to-people cooperation.
Swaraj, who is here on the first leg of her seven-day tour of four European countries, also met with her Italian counterpart Enzo Moavero Milanesi and the two leaders reviewed all aspects of the bilateral relationship.
“They exchanged views on regional and global issues of mutual interest,” External Affairs Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said.
The two leaders shared concerns relating to counter terrorism and cyber security and agreed to continue cooperation in this area, the statement said.
“Recognising the need to sustain the momentum generated by the visit of Former Italian Prime Minister Gentiloni to India in October 2017, the ministers emphasized the importance of promoting regular high level contacts and bilateral dialogue mechanisms,” it said.
Outlining the reforms undertaken by India to promote ease of doing business and liberalise Foreign Direct Investment, Swaraj highlighted the tremendous scope for enhancing bilateral trade and investment in sectors like infrastructure, food processing and renewable energy.
“To augment collaboration in areas of mutual benefit, the ministers agreed to hold the next meeting of the Joint Commission for Economic Cooperation (JCEC) in India later this year,” the statement said.
They also welcomed Italy’s participation as a partner country at the Tech Summit in India in November 2018 which would boost cooperation in technology and innovation.
The two leaders also welcomed the growing India-Italy convergence on contemporary global issues and agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in multilateral forums.
Swaraj also extended an invitation to Milanesi to visit India at a mutually convenient time.
The year 2018 also marks the 70th year of establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The two leaders welcomed the celebrations in both countries to mark 70 years of diplomatic relations and agreed to work together to build a robust and wide-ranging partnership covering political consultations, trade and commerce, science & technology, culture and people to people ties, it added.
Swaraj arrived here yesterday on the first leg of her seven-day tour of Italy, France, Luxembourg and Belgium, which is aimed at deepening India’s strategic engagement and trade ties with the four European countries.
The visit from June 17-23 will provide an opportunity to hold in-depth discussions with the political leadership on a wide range of global, regional and bilateral issues and advance India’s growing strategic engagement with the European Union, the Ministry of External Affairs has said.
The India-Italy ties took a hit after two Italian marines — Latorre Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone — on board a ship named Enrica Lexie were arrested for allegedly killing two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala in 2012. The India-Italy diplomatic row also impacted the European Union’s relationship with India.
Later today, Swaraj left for France for the second leg of her four-nation visit.
In Paris, Swaraj will meet her counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian and the two sides will review the bilateral relations.
(With inputs from agencies)