In­dia to Host 1st Ital­ian PM In a Decade

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - Di­pan­janRoy.Chaud­hury @times­group.com

New Delhi: In­dia is pre­par­ing to host Italy’s Paolo Gen­tiloni this month in the first prime min­is­te­rial visit from the coun­try in a decade and more than five years since the bi­lat­eral cri­sis over Ital­ian marines case broke about.

Gen­tiloni’s visit is an at­tempt by Italy, a G-7 mem­ber state, and In­dia to put ties back on track, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter. Com­ing as it does close on the heels of the14th In­dia-EU sum­mit, the visit will aim at fur­ther smooth­ing ties at a time when Europe ap­pears to be the flavour of the sea­son – French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron is sched­uled to visit In­dia from De­cem­ber 8-10.

“The idea of the visit is to show­case grow­ing mo­men­tum in Indo-Ital­ian part­ner­ship and In­dia’s ex­pand­ing part­ner­ship with Europe – a source for funds and tech­nol­ogy. Amid USEurope ties hit­ting a low and the cri­sis in Spain, EU states are also look­ing for po­lit­i­cal sup­port from In­dia,” said one of the per­sons, who did not wish to be iden­ti­fied. There are re­ports that Europe is look­ing to ce­ment ties with In­dia also be­cause of grow­ing scep­ti­cism over China’s One Belt One Road or OBOR since the fi­nal ob­jec­tive of the mega con­nec­tiv­ity project re­mains un­clear.

The Ital­ian marines case had not only ad­versely im­pacted Indo-Ital­ian ties but also Indo-EU part­ner­ship till it was ad­dressed last year, fol­low­ing which ex­ter­nal af­fairs min­is­ter Sushma Swaraj vis­ited Rome in Septem­ber 2016. Ro­mano Prodi was the last Ital­ian PM to visit In­dia, in 2007.

In­dia is eye­ing an in­crease in Ital­ian in­vest­ments in leather, de­sign sec­tor, food sec­tor and tech­nol­ogy, be­sides ex­plor­ing de­fence man­u­fac­tur­ing. Italy is among In­dia's top five trad­ing part­ners in the EU and a key in­vestor. Nearly 140 large Ital­ian com­pa­nies are ac­tive in In­dia.

Be­sides, In­dia is seek­ing to learn from Italy’s de­rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion pro­grammes as the south­ern Euro­pean coun­try has not yet been tar­geted by ter­ror­ists and rad­i­cals de­spite its cos­mopoli­tan so­ci­ety and mi­grants from across the globe. Italy houses the big­gest In­dian com­mu­nity in Europe af­ter the UK. As per the lat­est Ital­ian of­fi­cial es­ti­mates, more than160,000 In­dian na­tion­als are res­i­dent in Italy.

Megha­laya CM Mukul Sangma

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