Chinese Premier Starts Italy Trip

Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji arrived in Rome Wednesday on an official visit to Italy.

Zhu, who flew in from the Netherlands, is scheduled to meet Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, Prime Minister Giuliano Amato and parliamentary leaders during the Italy tour, which will also take him to Florence and Venice.

In a written speech delivered at the airport, Zhu said Italy, as an important member of the European Union (EU), is playing an increasingly important role in international and regional affairs and that strengthening the friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Italy accords with the long-term fundamental interests of both countries.

The Chinese people cherish friendly sentiments toward the Italian people and the Chinese government highly values the friendly relations with Italy, Zhu said.

Italy is the fifth leg of Zhu's current Europe tour. Before the Netherlands, he had visited Bulgaria, Germany, and Luxembourg.

Zhu expressed satisfaction with the sound development and plentiful achievements of Sino-Italian ties since the establishment of diplomatic relations three decades ago.

The premier said that he was confident that the visit would be a complete success.

Besides meeting with Italian political leaders, Zhu said, he will be meeting with personages from various other fields to discuss further cementing and developing bilateral ties.

Zhu is scheduled to conclude the Italy tour Sunday and travel on to Brussels to visit Belgium and the EU headquarters based there.

People's Daily Online ---