India and Italy have decided to elevate their bilateral ties to a strategic partnership, opening a new chapter on defence cooperation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Thursday after holding comprehensive talks with his Italian counterpart Giorgia Meloni.
On a two-day state visit, her first after being elected as Prime Minister last year, Meloni also announced that Italy was joining the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative as the two nations celebrate the 75th anniversary of bilateral relations.
Addressing the media after wide-ranging talks with the visiting Italian Prime Minister, PM Modi said new opportunities were opening up in India in the sector of co-production and co-development, which can be beneficial for both countries.
PM Modi invited Italian defence companies to actively participate in the Make in India initiative.
“This year India and Italy are celebrating the 75th anniversary of bilateral relations. On this occasion, we have decided to elevate the India-Italy partnership to the status of a strategic partnership,” PM Modi said with the Italian prime minister by his side.
PM Modi said the two countries have also decided to hold joint exercises and training courses between the armed forces of the two countries on a regular basis.
The two sides also agreed to work to counter irregular migration and human trafficking.
Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said the two leaders agreed to expand cooperation in the field of space and welcomed bilateral exchanges and took stock of the wide potential of possible joint research projects in areas such as remote sensing, satellite communication, lunar exploration, gravitational wave detection and practical applications of space technology between ISRO and ASI Italy.
“With the legacy issues behind us, the door is now open for industries to cooperate more strongly, particularly in the field of manufacturing, co-production, co-design and co-innovation,” he said.
The ties between Italy and India had nosedived after New Delhi’s move to jail two Italian marines for allegedly killing unarmed fishermen off the southern Indian coast in 2012 and the controversial deal to buy Agusta Westland helicopters for VVIPs.
Mr Kwatra said the two leaders stressed on the need to deepen cooperation in space, cyber and sea and agreed to work on identifying specific areas for strengthening ties.
India and Italy also signed a Declaration of Intent on migration and mobility, announced the establishment of a Start-up Bridge to tap, and inked a memorandum of understanding between Rabindra Bharti University, Kolkata and Italian Consulate General; and Morarji Desai Institute of Yoga and Sarva Yoga International, Italy.
He said India and Italy have been working shoulder-to-shoulder on issues such as terrorism and separatism.
“We held extensive discussions on further strengthening this cooperation,” PM Modi said.
“We laid special emphasis on increasing cooperation in areas like renewable energy, green hydrogen, IT, semiconductor, telecom and space,” PM Modi said.
He also welcomed Italy’s active participation in the Indo-Pacific.
“It is a matter of great pleasure that Italy has decided to join the Indo-Pacific Ocean Initiative. This will enable us to identify concrete themes for enhancing our cooperation in the Indo-Pacific,” PM Modi said.
The two leaders also agreed to assess and address potential risks associated with virtual assets and new financial technologies that may be abused for the purpose of money laundering and financing terrorism.
They also agreed to take steps to ensure that such virtual assets are subject to Anti-Money Laundering/Countering Financing for Terrorism (AML/CFT) regulations.
Meloni also called on President Droupadi Murmu.
Earlier, Meloni was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan as she arrived here on a state visit.
PM Modi welcomed Meloni at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, where she was accorded a tri-services guard of honour. Meloni later offered tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat.
The Italian prime minister was received at the airport by Minister of State for Health Bharti Pawar.
The Italian prime minister was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani and a high-powered business delegation.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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