India and Italy inked six pacts on a range of issues on Monday after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni held extensive talks on ways to strengthen bilateral political and economic relations.
Addressing the press after the meet, Modi said that he was glad to welcome Gentiloni at a time when the two nations were about to mark the 70th anniversary of their bilateral ties in March 2018. He said that during his talks, both nations agreed that the two great civilisations had scope to further strengthen their ties.
"Both our nations want to take the bilateral ties to new heights. And with this meet we could revisit and realign the priorities of our relationship, for maximum benefit to both parties," Modi said.
After the Modi-Gentiloni meeting, the two sides signed six pacts to deepen cooperation in the fields of railways sector safety, energy and promoting mutual investments, among others.
The two leaders also discussed ways to strengthen the bilateral political and economic relations, apart from deliberating on strategic international and regional issues.
Modi also noted that there was a huge potential for enhancing India-Italy trade ties. The prime minister said that there was scope for boosting the existing $8.8 billion worth of bilateral trade to much greater heights. He also invited Italian companies to invest in India's flagship developmental and infrastructural projects.
Furthermore, the prime minister said that the two nations agreed on strengthening bilateral cooperation on fighting terror groups and supporting each other on global platforms.
"Both of us are committed to fight unitedly against terror and on the issue of cyber security," Modi said.
The prime minister also spoke about strengthening cultural ties and people-to-people contact between the two nations to boost tourism.
"India and Italy are also committed to increase tourism and people-to-people ties between the two countries," Modi said.
Ahead of his meeting with Modi, the visiting leader, who received a ceremonial reception at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan, described his visit as an opportunity to make ties between the two countries stronger.
Earlier, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on Gentiloni and discussed issues of mutual interest, ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
In a series of tweets, Kumar said the two prime ministers reviewed the entire spectrum of the bilateral relationship.
Modi and Gentiloni also interacted with 12 Indian and 19 Italian business leaders for boosting economic and investment cooperation, the spokesperson said.
Gentiloni is the first Italian prime minister to visit in over a decade.
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.
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.
Italy is India's fifth largest trading partner in the European Union with a bilateral trade of $8.79 billion in 2016-17, as per official figures.
India's exports to Italy are at $4.90 billion, while its imports are at $3.89 billion, resulting in a trade imbalance of $1 billion in favour of India. In the first four months of fiscal 2017-18, bilateral trade has reached $3.22 billion.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Oct 30, 2017 17:56 PM