New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Italian counterpart Giorgia Meloni on Thursday agreed on the potential for defence equipment co-development and co-production in India. PM Modi on Thursday invited Italian defence companies to actively participate under the Make in India initiative.

The two Prime Ministers welcomed the steady deepening of defence cooperation between the two countries in the last two years, underscoring the need to further enhance mutual engagement in this field through the conclusion of an MOU on defence cooperation.

On her first official visit to India, Prime Minister Meloni met Narendra Modi on Thursday. She also met President Droupadi Murmu in the afternoon.

The two leaders held talks in a cordial atmosphere and exchanged views on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest. They acknowledged that the visit of Prime Minister Meloni is taking place at a significant time, as the two countries celebrate the 75th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations, according to a joint India-Italy statement.

Both leaders underscored their firm commitment to democracy, freedom, human rights and rule of law as key values in promoting peace, stability and development.

They welcomed the high degree of convergence in the political, economic and strategic interests of the two countries that provides an enduring basis for a long-term relationship.

Recalling their earlier meeting in Bali on the margins of the G20 Summit in Indonesia, they re-affirmed their commitment to further consolidate and strengthen the bilateral relationship between India and Italy in the years ahead. The Action Plan 2020-24 set an ambitious agenda for an enhanced Partnership with Italy, to whose full implementation both countries remain committed.

The two leaders appreciated the strong bilateral economic engagement and expressed their intention to further advance cooperation, including in the framework of the respective Make in India and Made in Italy frameworks, according to the statement.

The two PMs underscored the importance of intensifying their cooperation, in particular in technology, space, energy security and transition, infrastructure, pharmaceuticals, food processing, education, and research and development. In this context, they also highlighted the positive impacts expected from the new MoU on industrial property rights.

The two PMs recalled the energy transition partnership launched during PM Modi's visit to Rome in October 2021 and expressed satisfaction on the progress achieved in the fields of energy transition and renewable energy, also through the meaningful involvement of the private sector, emphasising the will to further enhance collaboration in these sectors.

The two leaders noted with satisfaction the continued contacts, including at the highest level and during the pandemic and the fruitful collaboration within the G20, in particular over the course of their respective Presidencies.

They held broad discussions on bilateral cooperation, including political and security cooperation, defence, trade and connectivity, energy security and transition, the green economy, culture and people-to-people relations. They also had discussed regional and global issues of mutual interests and concerns.

Both governments convened on the importance of a free, open and rules-based Indo-Pacific, based on respect for international law, sovereignty and territorial integrity, freedom of navigation, and free from coercion and conflicts.

According to the statement, they reiterated the importance of promoting a cooperative system of international ocean and sea governance and of maintaining the rules-based maritime order, based on international law, in particular United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

In this regard, the two leaders underlined the need to adopt a holistic view in countering transnational organised crimes committed at sea and the importance of safeguarding the legitimate uses of the oceans and the lives of people at sea, as well as the livelihoods and security of coastal communities.

Italy reiterated its strong condemnation of the unlawful and unprovoked aggression against Ukraine by Russian Armed Forces.

Italy and India called for the cessation of hostilities and expressed their serious concern about the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. The two PMs discussed the destabilising effect of the conflict in Ukraine and its broader regional and global implications. Both sides agreed to remain closely engaged on the topic.

They further discussed the impact of Covid-19 pandemic and the supply chain disruptions due to global developments.

With a view to further deepening bilateral collaboration, the two leaders decided to upgrade the relations between Italy and India to the level of 'Strategic Partnership'.

The two Prime Ministers condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Consistent with the various resolutions of the UN on the Fight against Terrorism, both sides supported a comprehensive approach in combating terrorism, extremism, preventing radicalisation, stemming recruitment, use of terrorist proxies, preventing the movement of terrorists including Foreign Terrorist Fighters, and disrupting financial support to terrorists, among others.

The two leaders affirmed the need to strengthen cooperation between the two countries in the fight against global terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. They reiterated the urgent need for all countries to take an immediate, sustained, verifiable and irreversible action to ensure that no territory under their control is used for terrorist attacks and to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of such attacks.

In this context, the two PMs expressed satisfaction with the role of the India-Italy Joint Working Group on counter-terrorism and for the ongoing bilateral cooperation in this field in multilateral fora.

The two leaders agreed to expand cooperation in the field of space and welcomed bilateral exchanges, taking stock of the wide potential of possible joint research projects in areas such as remote sensing, satellite communication, space science, lunar exploration, GW detection and practical applications of space technology between ISRO, India and ASI Italy.

Both leaders underlined the importance of an open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful ICT environment, which is seen as an enabler for economic growth and innovation. Both leaders look forward to establishing a bilateral cyber dialogue.

They expressed satisfaction on the progress made under India-Italy Science and Technology Cooperation (JSTC) and agreed, taking into account Italy's and India's national research priorities, to further strengthen bilateral cooperation in research areas of common interest, such as Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), Internet of Things (IoT) and smart manufacturing, among others.

Both leaders noted the importance of global cooperation in the context of COVID-19 and future global health challenges, and agreed to further intensify cooperation in this respect. They highlighted the mutual support and cooperation extended by both nations during the pandemic and welcomed the collaboration between vaccine manufacturers in India and Italy.

The two countries agreed to strengthen cooperation in the fields of migration and mobility, with a view to countering irregular migration and trafficking of human beings, and to examine pathways to facilitate labour mobility and promote fair working conditions, with the aim of addressing the needs of their respective economies.

Reviewing the interdependence and complexity of the global agenda, the two Prime Ministers decided to expand cooperation on global challenges such as climate change, the energy crisis, globally beneficial multilateralism and the protection of the rules-based international order, as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, according to the joint statement.

Both leaders agreed to further strengthen their cooperation and mutual support in multilateral fora, including the UN and WTO. PM Modi expressed his appreciation for Italy coming on board the Science, Technology and Academic Cooperation Pillar of the Indo-Pacific Ocean Initiative (IPOI).

Both leaders also reaffirmed their commitment to deepen the India-EU Strategic Partnership and to work together in the implementation of the India-EU Connectivity Partnership, and reiterated their firm support to the ongoing negotiations for an India-EU Free Trade Agreement.

The talks were held in a friendly and cordial atmosphere, and both leaders expressed their confidence in the ample scope for the further development of bilateral relations and of the multifaceted cooperation across sectors, according to the statement.