March 19, 2019 / 10:48 AM / 9 months ago

Italy PM Conte seeks to reassure EU, U.S. over China deals

FILE PHOTO: Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte presents plans on how the 500th anniversary of Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci's death will be marked in Italy, in Rome, Italy March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Yara Nardi

ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Tuesday that commercial and economic deals he will seal with China have no implications for Italy’s geo-political position, in a bid to reassure the European Union and the United States.

Conte told parliament that a Memorandum of Understanding to be signed with President Xi Jinping hooking Italy up to China’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative “do not remotely put into doubt our euro-Atlantic alliance”.

The United States has warned Italy against signing the MOU on what it calls a Chinese “vanity project”, but Conte, speaking ahead of an upcoming EU summit, left no doubt that the deal would go ahead.

The MOU “is fully in line with the strategy of the EU and in fact it promotes it as no other member state has done so far in its dealings with Beijing,” he said.

Reporting by Giuseppe Conte, writing by Gavin Jones; editing by Agnieszka Flak

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