India to Host 1st Italian PM In a Decade
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