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EU finalising plan for partnership with India

Sunday 3 July 2005, by BUKHARI*Shujaat

India emerging major player in global scene: Italian Ambassador

To review travel advisory in respect of Jammu and Kashmir Support to ongoing peace process between India and Pakistan Keen on reviving centre at NIT funded by Italy

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Antonio Armellini, Ambassador of Italy in India. - Photo: Nissar Ahmad

SRINAGAR: Stating that India was a priority country for the European Union, Italian Ambassador to India Antonio Armellini has said that an action plan for economic and strategic relations with India was being finalised by the Union. He said Italy would review the adverse travel advisory in respect of Jammu and Kashmir.

In an exclusive interview to The Hindu here, Mr. Armellini said that India was a major player in South Asia and was emerging on the same lines at the global scene. "The EU and India have agreed on a strategic relationship, though we have limited countries but India is a priority country as for as economic partnership is concerned," he said adding that an action plan was being finalised in this direction so that "we can go ahead with the operation." Mr. Armellini, who is on a five-day visit of Kashmir, said that strengthening economic relations was important for both India and Italy. "We are witnessing a period of heightened interests in India on part of Italy and last year the largest ever business delegation visited India when our President was on official visit," the Ambassador said. "We are looking at the areas which are complimentary to each other and thrust is on infrastructure building and Agro industries".

"Unity for consensus"

On a question about India’s demand for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council, Mr. Armellini said Italy believed that reforms of the U.N. should be viewed in the whole context. "We view this with the principle of democratic accountability and geographic representation and this should be taken care of as for as possible," he said adding that India shared this general aim and "the aim which it has proposed with the other countries and the group called G-4." However, the Ambassador said that Italy supported the approach and method through which same (reforms) can be achieved as proposed by different countries called "unity for consensus."

Supporting the ongoing peace process between India and Pakistan, he refused to suggest any solution for Kashmir problem and said: "It is up to India and Pakistan how it should be resolved." He, however, said that Italy and the EU were following the developments with great attention. "The CBM’s like Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service are positive and people here also feel that they have a good impact on the situation." These steps, he said, would foster good relationships between the two.

Mr. Armellini said that it was a fact-finding mission for him to visit Kashmir. He referred to the travel advisory issued by many western countries including Italy to their nationals not to visit Kashmir and said "the J&K Government is concerned about that and has pointed out that the situation had improved a lot which warrants that it should be withdrawn. We review the situation regularly and we will again review it. My mission was to acquire element of facts on this subject as well and will accordingly submit a report to my government," he said.

The Ambassador visited the National Institute of Technology here to revive the Centre for Maintenance, Handling and Repair of Instruments funded by Italy. Work on the project had been suspended in view of the turmoil but now it is being resumed. "We are keen on making this centre functional as soon as possible."

The centre was started in 1980’s but abandoned after the militancy erupted.

Mr. Armellini was accompanied by his Political Counsellor in New Delhi Paolo Trichilo.

See online : The Hindu

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