Chinese President Xi Jinping lands in Italy

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Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan arrive at Fiumicino airport ahead of a visit to Rome and the Sicilian capital Palermo, in Rome, Italy March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Yara Nardi
Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan arrive at Fiumicino airport ahead of a visit to Rome and the Sicilian capital Palermo, in Rome, Italy March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Yara Nardi

Chinese President Xi Jinping has arrived at Italy’s Fiumicino Airport for an official state visit.

This comes after Xi hailed an era of “global strategic partnership” with Italy.

Writing in an Italian daily, Corriere della Sera, on the eve of his visit,  Xi said: “With my visit I wish to set out together with Italian leaders the guidelines for bilateral relations and take them into a new era.”

Italy is planning to join China’s Belt and Road initiative, a multi-billion-dollar project which is at the heart of Beijing’s foreign policy strategy and represents Xi’s signature diplomatic and trade push. It aims to improve regional cooperation and connectivity on a trans-continental scale.

Italy’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, hopes the planned agreement, due to be signed on March 23rd, will boost Italian exports to China.

Xi also noted that China was ready to coordinate more closely with Italy over international issues such as climate change, including cooperation within multilateral organizations.

“Italy is open to consolidating communications and synergies with Italy within the United Nations, the G20, the ASEM and the WTO,” he wrote.

Xi’s itinerary will include a state dinner, accompanied by a performance by Andrea Bocelli, an Italian opera star.

This first stop on his Europe trip, after which he will be visiting Monaco and France.