President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi held talks with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano upon arriving in Italy on Monday, the first stop in a tour that will include visits to the Vatican and France.
Al-Sisi and Napolitano held closed talks, followed by a larger round of talks which included the delegations of the two countries, state-run MENA reported.
The two sides discussed ways to reinforce Egyptian-Italian ties and cooperation. They also addressed regional and international issues, including the peace process in the Middle East, combating terrorism and the situations in Libya and Syria.
Talks further addressed parliamentary ties between the two countries with after Egypt elects the House of Representatives. The date for Egypt’s parliamentary elections has yet to be set but they are expected to be held before the end of March 2015.
The Egyptian president met with President of the Italian Senate Pietro Grasso and is set to have meetings with an array of Italian officials, including Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who is also scheduled to hold closed talks with Al-Sisi.
Italy’s Federica Mogherini currently holds the position of the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
Ahead of the trip, Egyptian presidential spokesman Alaa Yousef said Italy is highly important for Egypt, specifically on the economic level, in a statement on the trip published by State Information Services.
Yousef said: “Italy is Egypt’s number one trade partner in the European Union.”
Al-Sisi is leading a delegation of ministers on this trip including the foreign, investment, supply and foreign trade ministers.
After Italy, Al-Sisi will visit the Vatican where he is set to meet Pope Francis and Secretary of State Pietro Parolin.
The statement said the trip to the Vatican reflects appreciation of the pope’s position on openness to dialogue with Islam as well as his efforts to combat poverty and defend humanitarian causes, among other common goals that create room to “strengthen bi-lateral ties on the political and religious levels”.
On Tuesday, Al-Sisi will head to France and is set to hold talks with French counterpart François Hollande the next day.
Before concluding the tour, Al-Sisi will meet with several top French officials including the speakers of both houses of parliament and French ministers of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius and of Defence Jean-Yves Le Drian.