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Italy officially exits China's Belt and Road Initiative: Report

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Rome | December 6, 2023 10:50:05 PM IST
Italy has taken an exit from China's Belt and Road Initiative, four years after becoming the only Group of Seven (G7) nation to sign up for it.

The withdrawal was initially reported by the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, which stated that Beijing was informed of the much-awaited decision three days ago.

Italy was the first significant Western country to join the project in 2019, despite US worries about China acquiring control over vital infrastructure and technologies.

According to an auto-translation of the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, the formal exit of Rome from the project occurred through the cancellation of the agreement by the Italian government.

In the end, after weeks of confidential negotiations and some diplomatic misunderstandings, Italy produced a verbal note, accompanied it with promises of strategic friendship capable of relaunching relations between the two states, and delivered it in Beijing to the Chinese government authorities, the Italian publication Corriere della Sera reported.

It is advantageous for both that there was little public announcement of the official cancellation (none of the two countries released a statement).

Beijing is in charge of a project that has partially fallen into financial difficulties.

The Silk Road Memorandum was notably signed by then-Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy and Chinese President Xi Jinping on March 23, 2019, according to Corriere della Sera.

Notably, it was upon taking office last year, that Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni stated her intention to pull out of the BRI, citing the absence of significant advantages for her country, Al Jazeera reported.

It was earlier in September this year that Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni had said that leaving the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) also known as Silk Road does not compromise relations with China.

According to Italian media, Corriere della Sera daily, it was on the sidelines of the G20 Summit here in Delhi this year, that the Italian PM met Chinese Premier Li Qiang and shared her plan to pull out of the BRI.

In the press conference on the last day of the G20 Summit, Meloni turned to talk about the conversation she had with the head of the Chinese government.

"A cordial and constructive dialogue on how we can deepen our bilateral partnership... I intend to keep my commitment to visit China...It makes more sense to go to China when we have more information on our bilateral cooperation and how to develop it," Meloni said at the conference, according to the Italian media report.

"Leaving the Silk Road does not compromise relations, but the decision still has to be taken," the prime minister assured.

"The Italian government was invited to the Belt and Road Forum, but yesterday we didn't talk about it," Meloni said at the conference. (ANI)

 
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