ABU DHABI // Italy wants to make its relationship with the UAE more strategic, focusing on defence, technology and infrastructure, prime minister Mario Monti said in the capital yesterday.
Mr Monti said relations between Italy and the UAE had been "very good for a long time" and "we are very keen on more integration between the two countries on mutual investments".
He held talks with the President, Sheikh Khalifa, the Vice President and Prime Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, on increasing trade and investment.
Mr Monti said he expected more investments from the UAE and GCC to his debt-ridden country.
He said regional security was also an issue for his government and called for the EU to take a unified position on the Gaza crisis.
"We have been directly informed by [Israeli] Prime Minister Netanyahu and [Egyptian] President Morsi about the developments in Gaza and we have urged for a ceasefire."
Mr Monti yesterday ended a three-day tour that also included Qatar, Oman and Kuwait. He said the Italian investment fund Fondo Strategico Italiano and Qatar Holdings had agreed to a €2 billion (Dh9.4bn) joint venture in "Made in Italy sectors".
"These sectors include food products and services, fashion, luxury and other areas of excellence within the Italian industry," Mr Monti said.
The economist and academic said the reforms his government was putting in place were making his country more attractive to foreign investors.
"The improvements that we are rather quickly trying to bring to Italy and the structural reforms we have initiated will make the country become more productive and receptive to foreign investments," Mr Monti said.
"Italy, which has been rather slow in the last 10 to 15 years in terms of growth relative to the rest of the euro zone, has a good deal of potential in terms of catching up once its structures are fully reformed."
Mr Monti swept to power in November last year after a major Italian debt crisis and said Italy had always stood by the Arab people in their quest for justice and democracy.
"We are recognising the new Syrian coalition as a legitimate representative of Syrian society," he said.
The international community had to redouble its efforts in Syria, he said, but would not state whether he supported arming the rebels or foreign military intervention.
Mr Monti said his government was satisfied with the results of the Doha Conference in establishing an inclusive coalition of Syrian opposition.
"This is an essential step to reach out to the whole segment of the Syrian opposition and we hope the new coalition will reach all of its objectives in the coming weeks," he said.
In between meetings in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Mr Monti conducted two lectures to the top institutional leaders.
He also met members of the Italian armed forces stationed at Al Bateen air force base before he travelled last night back to Italy.