Italian PM says wants to see Israel in EU

11:01, February 02, 2010      

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) stands with his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi during a welcoming ceremony in Jerusalem, Feb. 1, 2010. (Xinhua/pool/Debbie Hill)


Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Monday in Jerusalem that he wanted to see Israel join the European Union (EU).

Berlusconi, who arrived earlier Monday in Israel for a three- day visit, made the remarks at a welcoming ceremony held at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office, saying that " my dream is to see Israel become a member of the EU."

The Italian prime minister, together with seven cabinet ministers, arrived for the first-ever Israeli-Italian joint cabinet meeting, also expressed the hope that this visit will usher in an era of extensive cooperation between the two countries.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) stands with his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi during a welcoming ceremony in Jerusalem, Feb. 1, 2010. (Xinhua/pool/Debbie Hill)


Netanyahu welcomed the Italian premier, saying that it is not every day that Israel has the honor to host one of its best friends.

"We will work to strengthen and deepen the relations between Israel and Italy," said Netanyahu.

In addition to discussing improving cooperative efforts and bilateral relations, the two sides are expected to discuss Iran's nuclear program and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, said local daily Ha'aretz.

Most of Berlusconi's working meetings are scheduled for Tuesday, beginning with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. He will have lunch with Netanyahu while the seven Italian cabinet ministers in the entourage meet with their Israeli counterparts.

On Wednesday morning, Berlusconi will address Israel's Knesset (parliament) in a special session. Wednesday will also see Berlusconi meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

Source: Xinhua
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