Xi signs MoU on BRI with Rome in fruitful trip

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Chinese President Xi Jinping and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte shake hands in Rome, Italy. Xinhua

ROME (Xinhua) – Chinese President Xi Jinping left the Italian capital of Rome on Saturday, after holding talks with Italian leaders and witnessing the signing of multiple bilateral cooperation documents, including a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on jointly advancing the construction of the Belt and Road.

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“I have held in-depth and friendly talks and meetings with Italian officials, including the president,” Mr Xi said referring to his on-going four-day state visit to Italy. Before leaving, He attended a grand seeing-off ceremony hosted by his Italian counterpart, Sergio Mattarella.

Saying “the mutual trust and the practical cooperation between our two sides in various areas have been deepened,” Mr Xi called on China and Italy to further intensify high-level exchanges to advance their comprehensive strategic partnership to a new level.

Mr Xi’s stay in Rome was highlighted on Saturday by the signing of the MoU for China and Italy to jointly push forward the construction of the Belt and Road.

China and Italy realise the huge potential of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in promoting connectivity, wrote a joint communique issued by the two countries.

The two sides stand ready to strengthen the alignment of the BRI and Trans-European Transport Networks, and deepen the cooperation in ports, logistics, marine transportation and other areas, according to the document.

The BRI, first proposed by Xi in 2013, refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, and aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe, Africa and beyond.

China and Italy were at the two ends of the ancient Silk Road, thus they have every reason to carry out cooperation on the Belt and Road, Mr Xi said when meeting with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Saturday.

“We adhere to the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, follow the principle of transparency and openness, and aim for cooperation of win-win results,” Mr Xi said.

He urged the two countries to take the opportunity of the inking of the intergovernmental MoU on jointly building the Belt and Road to strengthen the alignment of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with Italy’s plan to develop its northern ports and the InvestItalia program, and promote mutually beneficial cooperation in all fields.

Conte said Italy is glad to seize the historic opportunity in joining the Belt and Road construction, adding that he strongly believes that it will help fully explore the potential of Italy-China cooperation.

The Italian prime minister said he is looking forward to attending the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation next month in Beijing.

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