Netanyahu with Italian counterpart Monti 370.
(photo credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO)
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti is scheduled to arrive Thursday at the head
of a delegation of six ministers from Rome that will hold his country’s third
annual government-to-government meeting with their Israeli
This will be Monti’s first visit to Israel since taking
over as prime minister from Silvio Berlusconi last November.
officials said that the close relationship Jerusalem and Rome enjoyed under
Berlusconi is continuing under Monti, with Italy considered among Israel’s
closest friends in the EU, and a country which often comes to Israel’s support
during deliberations on Israel and the Middle East inside the 27-member
Monti will be joined by Italy’s foreign, defense, justice,
education and transportation ministers.
In recent years, Israel has
launched annual government-to-government talks with a number of different
countries, including – along with Italy – Germany, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria
The benefit of this framework, according to diplomatic
officials, is that in addition to discussing diplomatic issues, the fact that a
large number of ministers meet their counterparts provides a major boost to
Israel and Italy are expected to sign five
bilateral agreements dealing with transportation; start-up and hi-tech
cooperation; and youth and student exchanges.