UK and Italy to work together on nuclear energy
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain and Italy agreed on Wednesday to work together to develop nuclear energy to ease their reliance on expensive oil and gas.
"I'm pleased to announce our two countries will work together in the area of nuclear energy," Prime Minister Gordon Brown told a news conference with visiting Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
"We both agreed that nuclear power can play an important part (in achieving) our shared objectives on climate change and energy security," he said.
Berlusconi said Italy would work alongside Britain to speed up investments in nuclear power and to work quickly on developing alternative sources of energy.
"We do hope that there is going to be a single nuclear policy for Europe," he said.
Italy is the only Group of Eight industrialised nation without nuclear power after the country rejected it in a 1987 referendum following the Chernobyl disaster in then-Soviet Ukraine.
Berlusconi's government has pledged to start building new plants within five years to ease the burden of energy imports.
Brown's government also favours building new nuclear power stations as part of a mix of energy sources to reduce reliance on imported oil and gas and help meet targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Brown and Berlusconi also discussed the credit crunch and rising food and energy prices which have undermined governments' popularity around the world.
"We in Europe cannot insulate ourselves from these unprecedented shocks because we are part of this global economy," Brown said. "We want to work together to address these challenges."
"This is why Prime Minister Berlusconi and I agree it is essential for us to press ahead with the economic reforms in Europe, to take the measures necessary to help our people meet the global economic challenge," he said.
He said Britain and Italy were committed to working together to help small and medium-sized companies that are being squeezed by European banks tightening their credit standards in the wake of the global financial turbulence.
(Reporting by Adrian Croft, Jeremy Lovell, Luke Baker; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)
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