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Thursday, November 17, 2016, 11:10

President hails Italy's role in China-EU ties

By An Baijie in Sardinia, Italy and Wang Qingyun in Beijing

Mediterranean country is a trusted friend and partner, Xi tells PM Renzi

President hails Italy's role in China-EU ties
President Xi Jinping and wife Peng Liyuan with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Sardinia, Italy on Nov 16, 2016. (Phot o / Xinhua)

China hopes Italy will play a positive role in contributing to a long-term, steady and sound development of China-Europe ties, President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday in Italy.

Xi emphasized that the European Union is a vital pole in the world while meeting with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Sardinia, where Xi's plane stopped overnight on his way to Latin America.

The president also said that China supports the prosperity and stability of Europe, which is undergoing big changes.

Calling Italy a trustworthy friend and important partner in the EU, Xi said that China attaches great importance to the development of China-Italy ties.

The president encouraged the two countries to better dovetail the Belt and Road Initiative with Italy's developing strategies.

Xi also extended his sympathy to Italians affected by a strong earthquake that hit the country in October, and he said he hoped Italy's people would overcome difficulties and rebuild their homes as soon as possible.

Renzi said Italy is willing to work with China to enhance cooperation in such areas as the economy and trade, energy, innovation, culture and tourism.

Meanwhile, Italy is committed to boosting China-Europe relations and to working with China to maintain world peace and stability, the Italian prime minister said.

Xi and Renzi previously met on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, in September.

As bilateral ties made big progress in recent years, Chinese companies have actively taken part in the privatization of Italian companies, while Italy invested in 5,478 projects in China by the end of March, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Cui Hongjian, an expert on European studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said "a considerable basis" has been established for bilateral cooperation, but the two countries need to better connect their development strategies to fulfill their great potential.

Italy's location on the Mediterranean Sea gives it an edge in cooperating in the Belt and Road Initiative, according to Cui.

Italy, a founding member of the EU, is playing an important role in consolidating the European integration process following Britain's plan to exit the EU, he said.

In addition, Italy can play a positive role within the EU to help address the recent twists and turns of China-EU ties caused by issues including China's market economy status, Cui added.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

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