After talks in Rome on Friday with China's president Xi Jinping, Italy's president Sergio Mattarella said he hoped that "constructive dialogue" on the issue of human rights would continue.
"Given Italy's membership of the United Nations Human Rights Council, I would like to hope that on the occasion of the European Union-China dialogue session due to take place in Brussels after last July's in Beijing, we can continue constructive dialogue on such an important topic," Mattarella stated.
Mattarella made the remarks at a joint press briefing at the Quirinale Palace with Xi after their meeting.
Accompanied by a 500-strong delegation, Xi is on a three-day visit to Italy aimed at boosting trade, cultural and political ties. Dozens of agreements are expected to be signed during Xi's stay including a preliminary accord on the multi-billion Belt and Road initiative that includes rail, road and port projects.
The Italian government hopes to signed the BRI memorandum of agreement during a meeting between Xi and premier Giuseppe Conte on Saturday.