Agencies New Delhi
Two countries sign six agreements
India and Italy sought to mend ties yesterday following years of tensions over the arrests of Italian marines suspected of shooting dead Indian fishermen.
Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni held talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in New Delhi and the two sides signed six agreements.
“From our talks today, I felt we both are interested in taking our bilateral relations to a new height. Your visit has helped us set new priorities for our relationship,” said Modi, appearing alongside Gentiloni.
The six pacts included those to promote investments and co-operate in areas such as energy, railways and culture.
Italy is among India’s five largest trading partners in the European Union, with trade worth $8.8bn in 2016-17.
“I think the relaunching of our diplomatic relationship will produce great opportunities for both countries,” said Gentiloni, the first Italian premier to visit India in a decade.
“Italy and India share a joint stand on global challenges like climate change, the fight against terrorism and protection of democratic values.”
“We will build on this message of friendship (from our discussions today),” he added.
Relations have been tense since 2012, when Italian marines Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre were arrested in India, suspected of accidentally shooting dead two Indian fishermen during anti-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean.
They were later released on bail and allowed to return to Italy but their arrest and subsequent legal action in India led to a near freeze of diplomatic relations.
Italy maintained the incident took place in international waters and that India was acting outside its jurisdiction.
The two countries are currently fighting a legal battle on the issue at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.
The Modi-Gentiloni talks focused on bringing fresh momentum to bilateral relations including trade and investment.
The discussions also covered co-operation in cyber-security as well as science and technology.
The two countries are celebrating 70 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2018, which will see year-long cultural performances, exhibitions and seminars in each other’s country.
A joint statement issued after the talks said the two leaders “condemned in the strongest possible terms recent terror attacks in India, in Europe and elsewhere and emphasised the need for strengthening international partnership and concerted action by the international community in addressing the menace of terrorism.”
They agreed to strengthen co-operation to take decisive and concerted actions against Al Qaeda, Islamic State and their affiliates and all other all UN-designated globally proscribed terrorists and terror entities.
Modi and Gentiloni emphasised the need for effective implementation of existing international commitments on countering terrorism including UN Global Countering Terrorism Strategy, UN Security Council resolutions and targeted sanctions relating to terrorism.
“In this context, the leaders also called upon all UN member countries to designate terrorist entities in line with the relevant UNSC Resolutions,” the statement said.
Gentiloni arrived in New Delhi on Sunday on a two-day tour, the first visit by an Italian premier since Romano Prodi visited in 2007.
Earlier yesterday, the Italian leader was given a ceremonial reception at the presidential palace, after which he and Modi met top business leaders from both countries.
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