) India and Italy on Thursday decided to elevate their ties to Strategic Partnership as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni held talks here, with both sides focusing on defence cooperation, startups, green hydrogen and space.
Prime Minister Modi, welcoming his Italian counterpart, also congratulated her on becoming the first woman PM of her country. He said both sides are celebrating 75 years of bilateral ties and have decided to elevate the ties to strategic partnership and deepen their relations.
PM Modi said there are immense investment opportunities in India’s Make in India and Atmanirbhar Bharat initiatives, especially in renewable energy, green hydrogen, IT, space and telecom areas.
Both sides have decided to set up a Start Up Bridge, he said.
PM Modi said the two countries have decided to work in the area of defence cooperation, including defence manufacturing, co-production, and co-development. “It will be very useful for both sides,” he said, adding that this would also include joint exercises and joint training.
Both sides also agreed to strengthen cooperation in working against terrorism and separatism.
PM Modi said India and Italy have decided to impart new vigour and shape to their ages old cultural and historical links. He said they are negotiating a Migration and Mobility partnership, which would strengthen people-to-people ties.
Both sides are also aiming for cooperation between their higher education institutions.
They have also drawn up an action plan to celebrate 75 years of their bilateral ties, through cultural events, Science-Tech, sports events.
He also welcomed Italy’s decision to join the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative, which he said would help in increasing their areas of cooperation.
Both also held talks on reform of multilateral institutions.
Italian PM Meloni, in her remarks, said Italy wants to further boost relations with India.
“And this is why we have decided to turn our partnership into a strategic one,” she added.
She said their trade ties, which stands at 15 billion euros has doubled in two years, and “I believe we can do more”.
“We are a 2,000 year old civilisation, and there are many elements that bring us close to each other, to preserve the identity of one’s own people.”
Meloni said the two sides want to work together in defence and energy security. “India has set up major objectives in this connection,” she said, adding the two sides want to work together in renewable energy. “This is a sector where we can cooperate and have full convergence on this.”
On digital transactions, she said the two sides are working on projects, and also on emerging technology, cyber security, space.
“We have decided to join the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative,” Meloni said, adding that in the international scenario it is very important to guarantee stability.
She also commented laughingly that the approval rating of PM Modi is very high and he is the moved loved leader in the world.
PM Modi has been pegged as the world’s most popular leader with an approval rating of 78 per cent as per a survey.
Earlier, the MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi in tweets said the two sides held delegation level talks, during which both sides discussed ways to further enhance cooperation in investment, startups, energy, defence, people to people linkages and S&T.
Regional and global issues of mutual interest also figured on the agenda. These include cyber security, counter-terrorism, cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and G20India, among others, he said.
Both leaders also exchanged views on taking the multifaceted bilateral ties forward with mutual commitment to foster growth, widen collaboration in various fields and deepen convergences on regional and global issues.
PM Meloni’s state visit is the first bilateral VVIP visit from Italy to India after five years. She will also be the Chief Guest and Keynote Speaker at the 8th Raisina Dialogue this evening.
PM Meloni, who came to power in October last year, is accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Antonio Tajan and a high powered business delegation.
The last Prime Ministerial visit from Italy to India took place in October 2018.
Earlier, PM Meloni was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhawan.