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Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni to visit India on Monday; first such trip in decade

New Delhi: Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni will undertake a state visit to India on 30 October during which the two sides will look at strengthening the bilateral political and economic relations.

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.

During his visit, the Italian leader will hold talks with the top leadership here, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The India-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.

 Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni to visit India on Monday; first such trip in decade

File image of Italy's prime minister Paolo Gentiloni arriving at European Union leaders summit in Brussels. Reuters.

They are now in Italy, pending the verdict by the arbitration court at the Hague. The India-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.

An interaction between the CEOs of the two countries is also being planned, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.

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.

A number of Indian companies are also present in Italy mainly in IT, electronics, engineering, automotive, pharmaceuticals and railway sectors.

In the EU, Italy has the third largest presence of Indian community (estimated at 180,000) after the UK and the Netherlands.

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Updated Date: Oct 27, 2017 21:07:59 IST