Relations between Italy and China have "a brilliant" future and the two countries must draw on their respective strengths to optimise cooperation in the infrastructure, logistics and maritime sectors, Chinese president Xi Jinping said Friday during a visit to Italy.
"I am confident that the prospects for cooperation between Italy and China have a brilliant future," Xi said in remarks at the Qurinale palace after talks with head of state Sergio Mattarella.
"We have been friends for a long time, making continual efforts to cooperate and to deepen the friendship between our two countries," Xi went on. He is on a three-day visit to Italy through Saturday which is aimed at boosting trade, cultural and political ties.
Xi urged Italy and China to "strengthen synergies to get the greatest value from cooperation in the infrastructure, logistics, port and maritime transport sectors in order to build a series of high-profile projects along the Silk Road."
Xi was referring to China's news Silk Road project, the Belt and Road initiative - a multi-billion-dollar plan involving rail, road and port projects, which the Italian government should sign a preliminary accord on during his visit to Rome.
Mattarella earlier described Italy's contribution to the massive infrastructure project as "crucial", citing the "scientific and technological" opportunities it will offer. He described relations with China as "excellent" and said Italy was eager further boost bilateral ties.
Under the BRI, Beijing plans to invest in Italian ports where Chinese goods would be imported into Europe. Some goods would also be manufactured in Italy to meet EU standards and transported by rail to other EU countries.
The advantages of the BRI to Italy - the eurozone's third largest economy - include financial investment and the opening-up of China's markets to Italian products, as well as greater scientific and technological cooperation.
Dozens of trade and other accords are expected to be signed during Xi's visit on which he is accompanied by a delegation of over 500 people.