Modi holds talks with Italian PM


New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni today held extensive talks on ways to strengthen the bilateral political and economic relations.

Ahead of his meeting with Modi, the visiting leader, who received a ceremonial reception at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, described his visit as an opportunity to make ties between the two countries stronger.

Earlier, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on Gentiloni and discussed issues of mutual interest, ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

In a series of tweets, Kumar said the two prime ministers reviewed the entire spectrum of the bilateral relationship.

Prime Minister Modi and premier Gentiloni also interacted with 12 Indian and 19 Italian business leaders for boosting economic and investment cooperation, the spokesperson said.

Gentiloni’s visit is the first prime ministerial trip from Italy in more than a decade.

Italy is India’s fifth largest trading partner in the EU with a bilateral trade of USD 8.79 billion in 2016-17, as per official figures.

India’s exports to Italy are at USD 4.90 billion, while its imports are at USD 3.89 billion, resulting in a trade imbalance of USD 1 billion in favour of India. In the first four months of fiscal 2017-18, bilateral trade has reached USD 3.22 billion.