Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni on Monday welcomed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi. He was accorded ceremonial reception on his visit.
Gentiloni said that India and Italy share strong economic relations and it is a great opportunity to make it stronger.
"We have strong economic relations and it's a great opportunity to make it stronger. We have common interests in global arena," said Italian PM.
Gentiloni to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, EAM Sushma Swaraj on Monday and will also hold delegation level talks.
Gentiloni will also meet President, Vice President and take part in an interaction with Indian and Italian CEOs in Delhi.
Earlier, announcing the visit, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the prime ministerial trip from Italy was happening after more than a decade. The last visit of an Italian prime minister to India was in February 2007.
“The visit is aimed at strengthening the bilateral political and economic relations between the two countries,” he said.
The Indo-Italy diplomatic ties were hit badly 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.
Italy claimed the ship was in international waters and that only the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) should apply. It also moved the international court.
While Latorre returned to Italy in September 2014 following an order of the Supreme Court issued on health grounds, Girone was allowed to go in May 2016. They are now in Italy, pending the verdict by the arbitration court at the Hague. The Indo-Italy diplomatic row also impacted the European Union’s relationship with India.
Gentiloni will be accompanied by his wife and a 15-member Italian CEOs delegation.
Italy is India’s 5th largest trading partner in the EU with a bilateral trade of USD 8.79 billion in 2016-17, as per official figures.
India’s exports to Italy are at USD 4.90 billion, while its imports are at USD 3.89 billion, resulting in a trade imbalance of USD 1 billion in favour of India. In the first four months of fiscal 2017-18, bilateral trade has reached USD 3.22 billion.
The MEA said over 600 Italian companies are active in India covering various sectors such as fashion, garments, textile and textile machinery, automotive, automotive components industry, infrastructure, chemicals, energy, confectionery, insurance etc.
With PTI inputs