A general view shows the Palazzo Chigi, official residence of the Italian government, in central Rome on May 30, 2018. (ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP)
ROME – The Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China could be good news for Italy, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Friday, confirming that he might sign an accord with Chinese President Xi Jinping later this month.
Xi is due to travel to Italy from March 22-24 and Conte said Rome and Beijing were looking to agree to a framework deal during the state visit.
With all the necessary precautions, Italy's accession to a new silk route represents an opportunity for our country
Giuseppe Conte, Italian PM
"With all the necessary precautions, Italy's accession to a new silk route represents an opportunity for our country," Conte told a foreign policy seminar in the northern city of Genoa.
"It won't mean that the next day we will be forced to do anything. It will allow us to enter into this project and have a dialogue," he added.
The Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by Xi in 2013, aims to link China by sea and land with southeast and central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa, through an infrastructure network on the lines of the old Silk Road.
Aside from boosting trade and investment, the initiative aims to advance exchanges in areas such as science, technology and culture.
Conte said he planned to attend a BRI summit in China in April.
READ MORE: Italy seeking cooperation with China
A number of European Union states have signed BRI MOUs with China, including Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Greece, Malta, Poland and Portugal. If Italy signs, it would be the first Group of Seven major industrialized nation to do so.
Italy fell into recession at the end of 2018 for the third time in a decade and the government is eager to find ways to boost the economy and revive the stalled construction sector.
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